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USF women score signature win vs. Gonzaga

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Molly Goodenbour, was subdued in her reaction despite defeating conference-leading Gonzaga, snapping the Bulldogs’ 12-game win streak.

“We’ve struggled with consistency all year,” the first-year University of San Francisco coach said. “We can be this team, but we’re not sure how to be this team every night.”

The host Dons defeated Gonzaga (21-5, 12-3 WCC) 77-72, finishing the game on a 22-10 run.

Rachel Howard’s 3-pointer with 1:34 remaining gave the Dons a 69-68 lead they would not relinquish. The senior guard finished with a team-high 23 points.

San Francisco (14-12, 8-7) managed to pull off the win despite a serious size disadvantage. Gonzaga outscored USF 40-10 in the paint, and the Dons’ interior problems were compounded as Michaela Rakova dealt with foul trouble all night. The junior from Slovakia committed three fouls in the first half and fouled out with 7:07 remaining.

Backups Hashima Carothers and Alicia Roufosse stepped up defensively in Rakova’s absence. Down the stretch, it was Howard and Claudia Price who helped get critical stops and turnovers against a Gonzaga team that towered over them.

“Claudia did a fantastic job defensively. She put her body on people, boxed out well, moved well and communicated well,” said Goodenbour.

Price and Howard helped to hold Gonzaga’s Jill Barta to just two points in the final 15 minutes after scoring 24 in the first 25. Barta and her teammates were held scoreless from 3-point range, an especially significant feat considering that the Bulldogs connected on 17 3-pointers against BYU two weeks prior. On Thursday, they missed all 11 shots from beyond the arc.

While inconsistency has plagued the Dons, success at home has been consistent. They hold a 9-2 record at War Memorial at the Sobrato Center.

“We clearly have a comfort level playing in our own gym. It may have to do with our confidence and being able to get into a routine and sleep in our own beds,” said Goodenbour. “These guys have a will to win, and we just need to find a way to execute more consistently.”

If the Dons keep executing at home, they’ll finish the season on a strong note. Thursday night’s win was the first of a four-game homestand to end the regular season.

The other critical problem that the Dons had struggled with lately was turnovers. In a pair of

road losses last week, they committed 21 turnovers each game. Against Gonzaga, they committed just 11.

“Turnovers are a mental thing, and you can switch that from one day to another. We had three practices where we really focused on taking care of the ball,” said Anna Seilund.

The Danish point guard scored 21 points and turned the ball over just once.

Barta led Gonzaga with 26 points. Kiara Kudron added 14 and Laura Stockton, daughter of John, finished with 12.

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