The University of San Francisco women’s basketball team lost to number 18/19 Gonzaga Bulldogs 79-59 this Saturday February 11 at War Memorial Gymnasium. It was the annual “Play4Kay” game in which the Dons wore pink shoes and pink headbands to promote breast cancer awareness and support the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. With the loss the Dons fell to 4-22 overall and 11-2 in conference play, while the Bulldogs improved to 22-4 overall and 11-2 in league play.
The shining light in the game for the Dons was senior guard Rheina Ale who led the Dons in scoring, with a game high nineteen points. She also earned herself a top spot in the USF record books, playing her 3,644th minute, passing previous leader Jamie Shadian who recorded 3,639 minutes. Ale, who averages 32.5 minutes per game, still has three more games to improve her lead in the record books.
The Dons came out very slow and Gonzaga put up a large lead early on in the game. With 8:27 left to play in the first half the Bulldogs led the Dons 22-11. Down by eleven, the Dons snapped to attention and put together a 12-3 point run that cut their deficit to two points.
The aggressive offensive barrage was led by Ale who put up six of her eight first half points in four minutes. Senior forward Katy Keating and freshman guard Jamie Katuna both contributed clutch three-pointers to top off the run. The Dons defense also stymied the Bulldogs offense, forcing three turnovers and a poor 1 for 5 shooting ratio.
Just as it appeared that USF was back in the game, Gonzaga’s defense came together and forced the Dons to commit four turnovers in the final four minutes of the first half. This resulted in a 13-2 run for the Zags that was initiated by sophomore guard Jazmine Redmon’s three pointer with 3:37 left in the half. The Bulldogs continued to turn up the pressure on offense, finishing out the half on an 8-0 run to secure a 38-25 lead going into the intermission.
Once again, the Dons came out of the locker room very lackluster and the Bulldogs did not hesitate to take advantage. Gonzaga’s senior forward, Kayla Standish, put up ten points in the first eight minutes of the second half, en route to a game high 19 points and game high ten rebounds in what came to be her third straight double-double of the year. Gonzaga kept up their momentum throughout the entire second half and lead by as much as twenty-nine points with just over two minutes to play.
USF’s coach Jennifer Azzi commended her team on their improved toughness and encouraged them to sustain that throughout the entire game. She also recognized the strong performance from Ale saying” as a senior she is finishing her career very, very strong. She’s been a joy to coach and I’m excited for the way that she is playing.” Coach Azzi hopes that they can take Ale’s energy and use it to win the next few games before going to the conference tournament.
The Dons take on Brigham Young University in their next match, set for Thursday February 16 at 6pm in Provo, Utah. The game will be televised internationally on BYUtv.