The Gaels led by as many as 26 in the second-half as Saint Mary’s improves to 14-3, 4-2 West Coast Conference, while San Francisco drops to 7-9, 2-3 WCC.
Jackie Nared led the way for SMC, scoring 24 points with six rebounds on 10-for-15 shooting. Lauren Nicholson scored 18 points, hitting 4-for-6 from three-point range. Danielle Mauldin added her 13th double-double of the year with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The Gaels also got another strong showing from the bench with 18 points and nine rebounds combined.
Saint Mary’s started the game with six straight stops on the defensive end as SMC led 8-2 at the first media timeout. Nared hit a three-pointer and the Gaels would build their first double-digit lead at 13-2.
USF went on an 8-0 run to tie up the game at 19-19 before Nared hit a jumper to end the run. The Gaels took a 35-27 lead at the final media before halftime after Nared connected on her second three-pointer of the game.
With 10 seconds left until half, Gaze brought the ball up the court and found Lauren Nicholson in the corner for a three-pointer as time expired to give the Gaels a 42-30 lead at the break. SMC shot 50 percent from the field in the half, led by Nared’s 16 points.
SMC started the second-half strong as the Gaels would hit three three-pointers in three possessions after the first media to lead 59-41 with 14:31 to play. Hayley Hendricksen hit her first of the season, not hesitating on the assist from Nared.
The Gaels continued their strong start in the second half, hitting 11 of their first 14 field goals and led 67-41 at the under 12 minute media timeout.
Saint Mary’s would cruise to the 86-67 victory.
Sabrina Engelstad scored eight points in 10 minutes off the bench. Hendricksen got the start for SMC and scored five points in 23 minutes. The Gaels committed just 12 turnovers, tying a season-low.
USF was led by Taylor Proctor with 24 points and eight rebounds. The Dons hit 9-for-18 from behind the arc.
Saint Mary’s finished the game shooting 55 percent from the field. SMC also converted 13-for-16 from the free-throw line.
Saint Mary’s returns home next week when it hosts Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount.