Women's Hoops Edged At USF, 67-64

Women's Hoops Edged At USF, 67-64

SAN FRANCISCO - The Pacific women's basketball team was nipped by San Francisco, 67-64, despite a season-high 14 points from Emily Simons, 11 from Chelsea Lidy and 10 from GeAnna Luaulu-Summmers.

Ameela Li added eight points with four assists, while Najah Queenland chipped in five points, five rebounds and three assists. Simons led the Tigers in rebounding with six.

The Tigers held USF to just eight fourth-quarter points and looked to comeback on the Dons for the second time this season. But USF outscored Pacific outscored the Tigers 17-1 from the free throw line as Pacific's inexplicable decline in free throw attempts continued. The Tigers shot three free throw attempts the entire game, another program record for fewest attempts (topping the previous low of five set two weeks ago in a one-point loss at Pepperdine). The Tigers, who entered Saturday's play 11th in the NCAA in free throw percentage, were averaging 27.1 free throw attempts through 14 games, but in the last seven games Pacific has gotten to the line for an average of 10.85 free throw attempts per game, coinciding with a 1-6 skid.

Down 65-64 with 29.6 seconds left, the Tigers held USF in the backcourt for 12 seconds, but didn't get the 10 second call and Pacific was forced to foul with 16 seconds left. After a pair of free throws, the Dons used two of their three fouls to give to run the clock down and the Tigers could only muster a fling toward the rim with the clock expiring.

The end of the game was eerily similar to Pacific's 59-58 loss at Pepperdine on January 12, in which the Tigers shot a then-program record for fewest free throws wit five for the game, forced an apparent turnover in the final 30 seconds only to see play continue, and the fouls to give prevented the Tigers from running a play in the final seconds.

Pacific shot 46 percent for the game (26-of-57), including an 11-of-25 performance from behind the three-point line.  The Tigers held the Dons to 39 percent shooting (21-of-54) but the Dons hit 17-of-19 from the free throw line to escape with a win.

Desire Finnie and Luaulu-Summers hit threes, but the Dons opened with a 7-6 lead. After a USF three, Finnie struck again from deep. USF tallied five straight before Queenland hit a three from the corner. Ameela Li added another triple to tie the game at 15-15. A jumper and lay-up from Emily Simons gave the Tigers a 19-15 lead. Lidy and Simons added buckets as the Tigers led 23-19 after the first quarter.

Lidy picked up the hoop and some harm in the second, but the Anna Seilund hit a three to bring USF within 25-24. Simons added a three and a Lidy jumper stretched Pacific's lead to 30-24. Mauriana Clayton chipped in a put-back and Queenland drove and finished inside, but the Dons surged in front, 36-34 on threes from Seilund and Rachel Howard headed into halftime.

Pacific shot 52 percent in the first half, and held the Dons to 40 percent from the field, but the Dons held a 13-7 edge in points off of turnovers.

Luaulu-Summers opened the third quarter with a lay-up, but USF answered with a pair of free throws. Clayton finished inside, but Howard replied with a drive and the Dons led 42-38 on another pair of free throws. Simons drove to the rim for a lay-up, but Michaela Rakova knocked down a three and the Dons hit three free throws to build a 50-40 lead as Pacific couldn't get to the free throw line despite contact inside. Luaulu-Summers added a jumper and Lidy a three to cut the deficit in half, at 50-45. But Howard drained a three to keep the Tigers at arms length. Luaulu-Summers added a trey to cut the deficit to six, but the Dons led 59-50 after three.

In the fourth, Li scored in transition and Callie Owens knocked down a three to bring Pacific with 59-55 two minutes in. Owens added another triple to trim the gap to 61-58. The Dons stretched the lead to 65-59 with 3:23 to play, but Simons finished inside and the Tigers posted a stop on defense. Li connected on a three to cut the deficit to one, at 65-64, and Pacific forced a 10-second backcourt turnover. But Pacific came up empty on the next possession, giving the ball back to USF with 29.6 to go. After the non-call on the backcourt violation, Pacific fouled to put USF on the line and after a pair of free throws, USF used their fouls to give to run the clock down and the Tigers didn't get a good look in the final seconds.

Pacific falls to 8-13 overall, 4-6 in West Coast Conference play. USF improves to 12-9 overall, 6-4 in WCC action, as the two teams split the season series. In Pacific's 63-60 win over San Francisco at home, the Tigers hit 21-of-23 free throws. 

Howard led the Dons with 28 points on 9-of-17 shooting and 7-of-7 from the line.

The Tigers will be back in action on Thursday with a road contest at Saint Mary's. Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. in Moraga.