With the college basketball season winding down, USF men’s basketball’s hopes of putting an end to their four-game losing streak came down to the wire. A two-game road trip against the Brigham Young University Cougars and the University of the Pacific Tigers stood between the Dons and their chances of getting back in the win column.
The Dons fell to the Cougars Feb. 25 under the bright lights of the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah on CBS Sports Network by a score of 73-79. While the pandemic has kept most fans out of the stands this season, the Dons had to contend with a crowd of 1,750 in the arena as this was the first game of BYU’s season where the Cougars hosted fans.
Both sides competed evenly for the first 10 minutes of the first half. A pair of free throws from sophomore Julian Rishwain carved out a two-point lead for the Dons. However, the Cougars responded with a 3-pointer and gradually took control of the game.
With less than seven minutes left in the second half, the Dons came back from a 16-point deficit to bring the game within four points. But, the Cougars ultimately stifled USF’s last-minute comeback and secured the victory at the free throw line.
On the night, USF shot poorly, going 38.3% from the field and 33.3% from beyond the arc. Rishwain led the team in scoring with 25 points and rebounds, with five. Senior Jamaree Bouyea and redshirt junior Khalil Shabazz rounded out the Dons double-digit-scorers club with 16 and 15 points respectively.
The Dons attempted to bounce back from their loss Feb. 27 when they played the University of the Pacific Tigers in their final game of the regular season, but they were ultimately beaten by a score of 69-76.
As the first half began, the Tigers jumped out to an early six-point lead, but USF refused to fall prey to the Tigers and took their first lead of the game with less than two minutes to go in the first half via a layup by sophomore Josh Kunen. With a few ticks left on the clock, Bouyea drove to the basket and knotted the game up at 33 points apiece as both sides headed into the locker room for halftime.
The second half began with the Tigers going on a 7-0 run, but USF clawed their way back into the game with a layup from Rishwain. The Dons made good use of their free-throws as Rishwain’s trip to the charity stripe put the team up 50-48, but this was the last time the Dons would lead in the game.
Eventually, the Dons found themselves on the wrong side of a 14-3 run. This deficit proved to be too much to overcome with under a minute left in regulation.
USF finished the night shooting 42.4% from the field, an improvement from their game against BYU. However, the team shot a meager 15.4% from beyond the arc, a season-low.
Bouyea led the team in scoring with 22 points; he also earned his second career double-double with 10 rebounds. Rishwain finished the game with 20 points and Shabazz finished with 15.
The Dons ended their season with a 10-13 (4-8 WCC) overall win-loss record and will play as the No. 8 seed in the West Coast Conference (WCC) men’s basketball tournament. Their first game will be March 4 in the first round against the University of San Diego Toreros.