SAN FRANCISCO - The San Francisco Dons hit a three with 1:37 left to capture a lead they would not relinquish, and Gonzaga fell 77-72 on the road on Thursday night.
The Zags did not hit a three pointer for the first time this season, and USF made 11 from long range. The Zags dominated points in the paint, 40-10, but ran into three empty possessions late. Jill Barta had her ninth game with 20+ points on the season, leading all scorers with 26. Laura Stockton scored 12 and Kiara Kudron had 14 with nine rebounds to lead the Zags. GU won in rebounds 41-35 and 19-13 in offensive rebounds.
The Zags had two early turnovers in the first quarter, but six early points from Barta kept them close, trailing 11-10 through the first five minutes. The Zags ball movement quickly improved, getting the ball inside to Barta, and GU took the 14-13 lead on two Barta free throws at 4:06. The Dons ended the quarter leading 22-20, shooting four-of-seven from three. GU outscored them in the paint 14-2.
Barta continued on a tear for GU in the second quarter, and had 18 points by the seven-minute mark. USF’s three-point shooting kept them in the game, making five to that point as GU led 30-29 with 6:10 to play in the half. USF took back the lead on a corner three and led 35-32 with 4:41 left in the quarter. A jumper from Zhané Templeton regained the lead for GU at the 4:04 mark, 36-35. The Dons came back with five of the next six points to lead 40-37. USF went to the break up 42-39 as Gonzaga was scoreless over the final 2:18. The half featured six lead changes and USF made seven first-half threes. GU dominated in the paint, 22-6, and 20-12 in rebounds. GU was hurt by nine first-half turnovers. Barta led all scorers with 18 first-half points and five rebounds.
A fastbreak led by Emma Stach to Kiara Kudron gave GU the lead back, 45-44, three minutes into the third quarter. The teams traded leads back and forth, but the Zags’ defense picked up the pace with a turnover to fastbreak led by Stach and a rebound from Chandler Smith to Barta in transition for the and-one basket, as the Zags led 51-49 at the 4:53 mark. Jessie Loera ran a fastbreak that led to an Emma Wolfram and-one basket, as GU led 54-50 at the 3:32 mark, tying their largest lead of the game. Gonzaga led 58-55 after three quarters. Wolfram, who scored seven points in the game, finished the quarter with seven rebounds to lead all Zags, and GU scored six points in transition in the quarter.
GU quickly led by seven on a Stockton steal and layup, but USF responded with a three and free throw to start the fourth quarter. The lead dropped back down to one, but a rebound and two free throws from Elle Tinkle made it 66-62 Zags with 5:45 to play. Both teams hit an empty streak from the field for over three minutes until the three-minute mark, as GU led 66-64. Two USF free throws tied it at 66 with two minutes to play. An offensive rebound from Smith to Kudron regained the lead, but USF responded with a three to take the final lead at 1:37. Gonzaga struggled to finish from the field, going one-for-four from the field up until the final possession, as they fell 77-72.