‘Where the West begins’ and the postseason ends

Women’s basketball plays in WNIT

James Salazar 

Staff Writer 

Redshirt sophomore Amalie Langer (#5) scored 23 points in USF’s first round win against the University of Houston Cougars. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS M. LEUNG/DONS ATHLETICS

USF women’s basketball made their return to the postseason with an appearance in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), which is for the best remaining 32 NCAA Division I teams who were not selected to compete in the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament. 

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic brought about changes to this year’s proceedings. The field of teams was halved from the usual 64 to 32 teams, and games were held at regional sites as opposed to on individual campuses, with USF playing their games in Fort Worth, Texas, “Where the West begins,” according to the city’s motto. 

USF opened the tournament March 19 with a 71-63 win over the University of Houston Cougars. This victory was the Dons’ first postseason win since 1998 and their first ever win in the WNIT. 

After shooting over 60% from the field in the first quarter, the Dons’ offensive prowess stalled in the second quarter. The Cougars chipped away at a 10-point deficit and held USF without a field goal for the last four minutes of the half, taking a 39-37 lead in the process. A pair of free throws from redshirt sophomore Ioanna Krimili tied the game as the teams went into halftime. 

Both teams traded buckets for the first five minutes of the third quarter. Coming out of a timeout with five minutes left in the third quarter, redshirt sophomore Amalie Langer sank a three-pointer that gave the Dons a lead, which they held onto for the rest of the game. 

Three Dons finished in double-figures, with Langer’s career-high 23 points leading the team. Senior Lucie Hoskova finished the game with 18 points and Krimili rounded out the trio with 14 points. 

The Dons found themselves on the wrong side of a win-or-go-home contest March 20 as they lost to the California Baptist University Lancers by a score of 82-90. 

USF struggled offensively in the first quarter, and sloppy play let their opposition build an early lead. Though the Dons went 1-for-8 from three-point range, Krimili sank a three to end the first quarter and cut the Dons’ deficit to two points.

USF’s woes continued in the second quarter as the Lancers stretched their lead by 12 points. However, the Dons responded with a jumper from Hoskova and another three-pointer from Krimili to cut the lead to seven points. 

 The third quarter featured similar action as the Lancers went on a 10-0 run, bringing their lead up to 15 points with a little under seven minutes left in the third quarter. A pair of three-pointers by junior Kia Vaalavirta and Langer brought the game within nine points. However, the Lancers eventually stifled USF’s comeback and slashed their opposition’s postseason dreams in the process. 

Despite the loss, the Dons played well in their final game of the season. Krimili led the team in scoring with 30 points, as she went 6-for-17 from beyond the arc. Her season total 97 three-pointers means she made the fourth most in West Coast Conference (WCC) single season history. Additionally, Krimili’s career-total 117 3-point field goals puts her at 10th most in USF history. 

Hoskova finished her last game in the green and gold by scoring 22 points, ending her two-year run with an impressive 794 points. Hoskova’s performance was also the 16th time in her career that she has scored in double digits. Langer was the last double-digit Don, finishing with 10 points, as well as three assists and two steals.

In a statement on the Dons Athletics’ official website, head coach Molly Goodenbour said, “We are young, we have a lot of kids coming back with multiple years of eligibility. This was a fantastic experience for them to be able to play in a tournament situation and to feel what that’s like.” She continued, “I do believe we are building a foundation for moving forward and being able to hopefully play in more postseason tournaments as we progress.”

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