Dons Dominate on Opening Night

Ndewedo “Chips” Newbury rises for the slam, pregame at War Memorial Gym. Photo courtesy of Chris M. Leung/Dons Athletics.

The Dons Men’s Basketball Team opened up the 2023-24 season on Nov. 6, with a 128-59 win over Bethesda University. 

The Dons came out the gates firing, commanding a 50-point lead after one half of play. The Dons had an electric first half, shooting 13 for 20 from three, and 73% from the field.

Shining in their debuts were newcomers, Johnathan Mogbo and Mike Sharavajts

Mogbo finished with 17 points in his first game on the Hilltop. In the first half, Mogbo threw down multiple monstrous dunks and alley-oops that caused an eruption from the crowd, finishing with 15 points in the first half. The junior Florida native transferred to USF this year, from Missouri State University where he spent his first two collegiate seasons.

Mogbo reflected on his first performance on the Hilltop. “I brought energy, defense, everything. I feel like Coach [Gerlufsen] prepared us for this and I think everyone did a good job, on both sides,” he said. 

“I just want to thank God, without him nothing’s possible. My mom always told me when I get on the court to be ready. So just go out there, play hard, play as hard as you can, no matter who we are playing and good things will happen.”

The Dons opened up the second half with a poster putback dunk by Sharavajts. The Dons made use of their entire team, with every player on the roster seeing time on the court, and with seven players scoring in double digits.

Sharavajts, one of the Dons’ most highly anticipated transfers, held down the team as their starting point guard. The 6-foot-8 guard wasn’t scared of sharing the ball as he finished the game with 11 points, seven assists, and a highlight alley-oop that he threw to 7-foot-center Volodymyr Markovetskyy

Also adding to the barrage of offense for the Dons, was junior Stefan Todorovic, who put up 17 points, and showed his offensive skills, knocking down three three-pointers and shooting 7 for 11 from the field.

Head Coach Chris Gerlufsen spoke on the newcomers’ impact on the game. “I think we have a lot of weapons up and down the lineup. I think we have guys where we could have multiple leading scorers as the year goes on,” he said.

“Our newcomers have really meshed and ingrained themselves into our program quickly. They’re all exciting players… I’m excited about what our group can be. We’re not even close to what our potential is.”

Todorovic also spoke about his successful shooting from behind the three-point line.

“My whole life I’ve been a shooter, so I think it all comes with confidence, which I have all the time when I step on the court,” he said. “[Shooting is] my job. Be shot ready all the time, and being shot ready for me is going to open up a lot of different stuff for not only me but the others too.”

Bethesda did not have much to show from their performance, shooting 37% from the field, 11% from three, and suffering 25 turnovers — 15 more than the Dons. Bethesda only had one person score in double digits, Jonathan Ilelji, who put up 18 points. Ilelji shot 1 for 8 from three, to go along with five turnovers.

The Dons dominated the game, never letting Bethesda get the chance for a comeback. Throughout the length of the game, Bethesda never had a lead over the Dons.

The Dons open up the new season undefeated, with a statement win that is bound to send a message to the rest of the West Coast Conference. 

Students can attend all Dons home games for free with the use of their One Card.


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