The University of San Francisco hosted a thrilling season opener on Friday night as a favorite against the University of Illinois at Chicago. A few Dons had big games, including starting point guard Ronnie Boyce with a career-high 28 points, two rebounds and two assists.
While the game ended in thrilling fashion, it started out slow with a galore of fouls and few turnovers. A majority of the fouls were committed by UIC, and it did not look like they could keep up with USF. All of a sudden, the Dons hit a few quick baskets and started to pull away.
The Dons continually attacked the rim and did not settle for long distance shots. UIC could not consistently stop the big men of USF. About mid way through the half, the Dons looked more comfortable and started moving the ball more. USF pulled ahead by eight with a couple of big three’s from Boyce. 10 seconds before the first-half ended, Boyce sunk another three-pointer, his third of the half.
The Dons picked up right where they left off, to start the second-half with statement blocks. The Dons offense stuck to what was working and continued to attack the rim. The Flames out of Chicago started a run of their own with two big three’s and a powerful dunk to pull within 10 points of the Dons midway through the second-half. Soon after, Chase Foster ended the Flames’ run with a run-stopping three. Unfortunately for the Dons, UIC started to work their inside game more efficiently and began to close the gap as the game approached its end.
The Flames quietly pulled within one point of the Dons with five minutes left in the game. Boyce nailed a huge three to start a run for the Dons, before a foul ridden final 5 minutes. The last 5 minutes of the game were back and forth, with each team trying to give a final push. The Dons held a seven-point lead with about four minutes left but UIC once again pulled within one point. The Dons turned the ball over then committed a foul, and the Flames sunk their two free throws to take the lead. The Dons went up by two points a few possessions later after Boyce’s compelling layup. The Dons committed a controversial foul and gave two free throws away, though the Flames weren’t able to convert both attempts.
Within the final 2 minutes, the Dons had a huge stop on defense which gave them an opportunity to build on the three point lead. However, nothing came out of the offensive chance.
The Flames’ Dikembe Dixon hit a huge three to tie the game at 80-80 during a 13-6 run with less than a minute to go. Jordan Ratinho, the freshman guard out of Concord, swiped a steal and threw the ball down court to Remu Raitanen, who got fouled driving to the rim. Raitanen converted both his free throws to put the Dons up by two, which was enough to secure victory. With a scrum for the ball and offensive rebounds, the game comes to a close with the Dons starting the season 1-0.
With this 1-0 start, the Dons will look to continue their winning ways when they face Troy University on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 7pm here at War Memorial Gym. Be sure to go out and support the Dons or follow live on theW.tv
Photo Credit: Dons Athletics/ Flickr