The Women will take on USF today at the Chase Center today at 5pm EST in a matchup that will be streamed on ESPN+. For those watching internationally, I believe the game can be streamed here.
Heading into the season, the Dons were predicted to finish 7th in the conference, but they currently sit at 4th with a 4-2 record that includes wins against LMU, Pepperdine, Pacific, and, again, LMU and loses against Portland and Santa Clara. This prediction likely relates to the limited experience this team had together as they only returned 22% of minutes played and 28% of their scoring from last year. With their only loses in conference coming agains strong teams in the Portland Pilots and Santa Clara Broncos, I think it’s safe to assume the Broncos have some spunk to overachieve their preseason predictions. Be sure to check out my review of the Dons’ non-conference performance here.
I’d expect a fairly fast paced game tonight as USF holds the second highest pace within the WCC at 73.3 and while they only average about 67 points per game, they have the potential to pop off as they scored 81 against Pepperdine and 83 against Pacific. This potential looks to hinge upon their efficiency from three point range as they hoist the most per game from beyond the arc within the conference at nearly 23 attempts per game. While they only convert about 29% of those attempts on the season, in those high scoring games mentioned above, they converted 45% and 42% respectively so how the Zags go about shutting down those attempts could go a long way in determining the victor tonight.
While pretty much every Dons player averages nearly 1 three pointer per game, the main threat will be senior guard, Jasmine Gayles. She currently leads her team in points with 17.7 per game, which makes her third in the conference for scoring, and chucks up nearly 7 three pointers per game. Now, she only converts about 26% those attempts, but she clearly has the green light so if she gets going, like she did against Pacific when she hit 5-8 on her way to 40 points (!), it could be along night for the Bulldog defense. She should be on the floor the majority of the night as she averages 34 minutes per game and with her 30.4% usage rate, expect the ball in her hands often.
Another player to watch will junior forward Debra Dos Santos. Standing at 6’0”, she posts a respectable 14 points per game, sixth in the conference, while shooting 53% overall to go along with nearly nearly 11 rebounds per game. She only averages 0.7 three pointers game so expect her to be a thorn in the paint for the likes of Yvonne, Eliza, and Maud.
Getting back to USF’s deep ball shooting, Freja Werth will need to closely guarded as she averages 5.5 threes per game, compared to just under 3 two pointers per game, and converts 35% of those attempts to help her average the third highest points on the team with nearly 10 per game. Standing at 6’1”, she can also mix it up inside as she averages 5.6 rebounds per game. It’s possible we’ll see more action than usual from players like Callie and Esther if Fortier desires some size on defense.
Luana Leite could be an important player in this matchup as she leads her team in assists with 4 per game and completes assists on nearly 27% of the possessions she’s on the floor. She may only be 5’7” and shoot an abysmal 6% from three point range, but I suspect she’s got some shiftiness in her game as she gets off nearly 6 two point shots per game, which ranks third on her team, and converts 45% of those attempts. How the Truong’s, Bree, and possibly Callie restrict her penetration and passing will be interesting to watch.
Let’s hope that the Zags can shut down the three point shooting tonight and continue their dominant fashion thus far seen in conference. Hit the comments below as the game progresses to give your thoughts!