San Francisco had to make their way past No. 3 seeded University of San Diego in the quarter-finals and No. 2 St. Mary’s in the semi-finals. USF pulled off both underdog wins in dramatic fashion.
Monday’s game against St. Mary’s was a back-and-forth grinder that was a coin toss and foul away from going one way or the other. Both teams shot poorly in the first half. In the first quarter alone USF shot a mediocre 35%, luckily St. Mary’s shot even worse. Senior forward Taylor Proctor was pivotal in the second quarter fending off the Gaels with five rebounds and steal to maintain a 25-22 lead at halftime. The Dons were shooting a dreary 35.7% but St. Mary’s was shooting a depressing 24.3%. The Gaels inhaled 33 rebounds, 14 offensive, is what prevented San Francisco from pulling away.
After the break sophomore Michaela Rakova’s layup earned a seven-point lead for the Dons, the biggest of the night. St. Mary’s went on a 15-2 run to swing the score in favor of the Gaels 37-31. At the end of the third, sophomore guard Anna Seilund hit a three to bring the team back within four points, 37-41. The fourth quarter was stress inducing as the Dons were able to knot the score four different times before finally earning a lead with 1:04 remaining after a Proctor 3-pointer, 57-56. A response three put the Gael’s back on top 59-57 but senior guard Zhane Dikes hit her own three to give USF the lead 60-59.
The final 23 seconds was all free throws for San Francisco. Proctor went 4-of-4 from the charity stripe, junior guard Rachel Howard 2-for-2, and Dikes 1-for-4. After drawing a foul with 0:11 seconds with a 64-63 lead, Dikes missed both free throw attempts. During St. Mary’s inbound with 0:09 left, Seilund deflected St. Mary’s inbound pass and Dikes picked up the loose ball and drew another foul. Zhane made her first but missed her second attempt, Proctor hustled for the offensive rebound, drew a foul and iced the game by making both attempts. St. Mary’s hit one more layup but they couldn’t complete the comeback. USF celebrated with a final score of 67-65. Proctor, Dikes and Seilund led the way with 19, 14 and 10 points.
During San Francisco’s opening game against USD was definitely another game to remember. USF blitzed San Diego to a 10-2 lead to open the game but the Torrero’s ripped off a 12-2 run, giving USD a 14-12 lead. San Diego 20-19 after the first quarter. USD expanded their lead to eight, 36-28 going into the half. At halftime USF was losing the rebounding battle 11-20 and had turned the ball over nine times. The Torrero’s pressured the Dons and pushed their lead to 12. After a layup by junior forward Hashima Carothers, the Dons worked the deficit to 45-61 but that was the closest they would get all quarter. At the end of the third, San Diego led 57-48. After a Proctor made a pair of free throws, the deficit trimmed to three, 58-61. With 4:18 remaining both teams went on a rapid exchange of free throws and layups. With 0:03 remaining Proctor hoisted up a game-tying three that sent the game to overtime. In extra time all 11 USF points came via free throw to lead the Dons to a clutch 84-80 victory. Howard and Proctor finished with 26 and 24 points respectively.
The score for Tuesday’s championship game against No. 1 seeded BYU was unavailable at time of print.
Photo courtesy of Dons Athletics