War Memorial was rockin’ as fans covered in green and gold watched the men’s basketball team win an important game over Bay-Area rival Santa Clara University. The 68-62 victory by the Dons marked their first season sweep over the Broncos since 2005. More importantly, the win gave USF sole possession of second place in the WCC with a 6-2 record.
Comcast Sports Net broadcasted the game locally; for those that couldn’t make it to War Memorial (like me), it was a perfect opportunity to enjoy some USF basketball. The first half of the game contained back and forth action as both teams tried but struggled to take a large lead; there were three ties and eight lead changes throughout the first 20 minutes of action. Santa Clara took a 29-28 lead into halftime. The action didn’t pick up for the Dons until the start of the second half. After intermission, USF focused on defense and a desire to pick up the offensive flow.
One major advantage to watching the game on TV is that it makes it much easier to see the offensive sets, the spacing and the defensive rotations. TV just gives you a different perspective that’s hard to obtain in person. With that said, watching the game in person is much more exciting, nothing compares to being apart of a large and loud crowd.
The Dons scored the first bucket of the second half and never looked back. They were controlling the game in all areas; they were getting easy shots on offense and were forcing touch shots on the defensive end. USF’s playing prompted this in-game tweet: “USF has been really impressive tonight … great D, nice ball movement and they’re hustling on every play.” Impressive is really the only word to describe the way the Dons played in the second half. The most impressive aspect of USF’s game was the way they contested the three-point shot. Santa Clara shot an abysmal .150 (3-20) from three-point land and an even worse .333 (20-60) on all shots. Credit has to be given to USF’s rotation on defense; they rarely gave up an uncontested shot. Angelo Caloiaro, Perris Blackwell and Moustapha Diarra did a good job of getting out on shooters and putting a hand up. The guards and wing players were flying around the perimeter and rotating around the open man; it was a good job all around by the defense.
On offense, the play by Rashad Green was notable. In the second half he was able to get any shot he wanted, mixing it up with three-pointers, pull up jumpers and timely drives to the basket. The lefty had his whole arsenal working and he gave Santa Clara a lot of trouble. Caloiaro seemed to be everywhere on offense, he was pulling down offensive rebounds and popping out to the perimeter to hit jump shots. His hustle earned him a game high of 9 rebounds. The Diarra and Blackwell combination upset Santa Clara, as their size overwhelmed the Bronco’s forwards. Blackwell was efficient in offense as he scored 14 points on 4-6 shots, while Diarra’s activity and size led to 4 offensive rebounds and 4 points. Michael Williams also had a nice game as he finished with 13 points. Williams was deadly from the three-point range, where he shot 3-4.
The final score of 68-62 is a bit misleading as the game was not as close as the score indicates. USF was up by double digits heading into the final minutes when Santa Clara made a late rally. USF was up by as much as 16 at one point, as they controlled the tempo in the second half. The win gave the Dons their 5th in their last six games and kept them in the hunt for a WCC title. Next up for the Dons are two home games against San Diego on the 10th and St. Mary’s on the 12th.
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