On Feb. 7, the women’s basketball team took to the War Memorial Gymnasium to host one of the best teams in the West Coast Conference, the Pepperdine University Waves.
Within the first few minutes of play, the Dons found themselves on the opposite side of an 8-2 Waves run. Points were hard to come by for the remainder of the first quarter, as the Dons went into the second quarter trailing the Waves, 8-12.
Action began to heat up in the second quarter. The Dons took their first lead of the game with five minutes left to play in the first half. Then, briefly falling behind again, the Dons would once again get out in front with only three minutes left in the first half.
However, the Waves ended up successfully halting their opponents’ momentum, forcing the Dons to face a two-point deficit as both sides headed into the locker room.
The second half was tightly contested by both sides. The Dons showed resistance when they tied the game at 36 points apiece with seven minutes to go in the third quarter. Despite the Waves pulling away shortly after, it would not take long for the Dons to get back on their opponents’ heels. Freshman Julia Nielacna scored four consecutive points to bring the game within three points. Before the third quarter came to a close, the Waves would make one more basket and lead the Dons 49-44.
The fourth quarter started off with both sides trading points. Redshirt Sophomore Nia Alexander hit a jumper from 10 feet away to give the Dons a one-point lead two and a half minutes into the fourth quarter. Despite falling behind, the Dons continued to work hard as freshman Abby Rathbun connected on a baseline jumper with five minutes left, cutting Pepperdine’s lead down to two points. Pepperdine spent the last four minutes on an 8-0 run that extended their lead by 10 points with a score of 69-59. With a little over a minute left to play, the Dons churned out seven points but their fate had already been sealed. The Waves wound up narrowly defeating the Dons by a score of 72-66.
Throughout the entire game, the Dons played their hearts out. Senior guard Shannon Powell went off, netting her seventh 20-point game of the season and ninth of her career with 22 points. Powell also netted seven rebounds, four assists and four steals. Nielacna and Rathbun joined Powell’s double-digit club with 13 and 10 points, respectively. They also contributed to the Dons going a perfect 6-6 at the free throw line, a first for the team since Jan. 18.
Elsewhere on the hardwood, halftime action included USF’s new official cheer squad making their highly anticipated debut.