The Dons men’s basketball team built on their strong start last week with an 82-72 win over the Princeton University Tigers, capping off a historic night at the Chase Center.
As students stepped off Muni vehicles and arrived in Mission Bay, a big screen video board display outside the west entrance showed men’s basketball player Jordan Ratinho and women’s team player Dolapo Balogun outside of the newly-built Chase Center — representing USF as the first collegiate program to compete in the billion-dollar complex against Princeton and Stanford University, respectively. Greeted left and right by USF’s spirit squad and cheer team, students and families flooded into the building with excitement and pride. They carried in their new Fog Zone towels in pockets and pushed green and yellow Dons sweatbands onto their heads.
Inside the arena, the USF and Princeton logos radiated from the largest LED scoreboard in the NBA, with the vibrant gold and blue Golden State Warriors logo emblazoned at center court.
Students crowded on the east side of the court behind the hoop with a palpable sense of school pride. “I actually helped build this stadium with a whole group, so it means a lot to me to be here,” senior Dylan Flannley said. “It means a lot to me to see the Dons win because we started off not very strong when we were freshman here, but to see them finally get some wins is incredible.”
It means a lot to me to see the Dons win because we started off not very strong when we were freshman here, but to see them finally get some wins is incredible.Dylan Flannley
It wasn’t long until “Bring Em Out” by T.I. was blaring throughout the arena and sophomore Trevante Anderson flew in with a dunk to commence the team warmup. The hashtag “#WitnessHistory” was displayed on small screens amongst the crowd.
The Dons carried confidence from their 101-50 opener win against Sonoma State University at War Memorial Gym Nov. 5, but the Tigers started the scoring with a 3-pointer from Ryan Langborg. The score was answered by sophomore Jamaree Bouyea as the school band launched three loud hits on their drums and students held up three fingers. This was the pattern for most of the first half, with the Dons shortly trailing behind yet keeping up with their competition.
The Tigers proved patient on offense as the Dons prevailed on defense, with the Tigers shooting 13 for 25 in field goals, mostly in the paint, and USF remaining on the outside shooting long jumpers, for which they went 18 for 39 in the first half. It wasn’t until Khalil Shabazz, Josh Kunen, and Charles Minlend drove in with consecutive layups that the Dons broke open the score, finishing the first half at 41-35.
The Dons came in strong for the second half, out-rebounding the Tigers 44-33 overall. Jimbo Lull controlled both the defensive and offensive ends, contributing to 11 of the 44 rebounds and totaling 15 points. Bouyea put up a career-high 19 points while Minlend and Ratinho also hit double digits in points. USF outperformed in second-chance points both halves, reaching 11 in the second half and 17 overall as Princeton hit five overall. The Tigers recouped from their frequent turnovers in the first half, though, as the Dons scored off of turnovers twice in the second half as opposed to 14 in the first.
The yellow Fog Zone towels swirled as “U-S-F” chants soared throughout the student section after Lull closed the game with a lay-up and the Dons carried possession to complete their 82-72 victory against the Tigers, boosting their record to 2-0.
“Overall, I was pretty pleased. I thought we controlled the game for a majority of the second half,” head coach Todd Golden told the press. “[We had] our biggest lead 17 with three minutes to go, so I was pretty pleased.”
The team took on Yale University (2-1) on the following Monday, Nov. 11 at the Hilltop for their third game of the season and won in overtime 84-79, adding to their streak. They will take on Southern Illinois (2-2) away Nov. 16 in their fourth game of the season.