If there’s anything that the Men’s Basketball team has learned this week, it’s that 2 points can make a heck of a difference – for the better or the worse.
At home on Feb. 1, the men took on the Pilots of the University of Portland. Senior forward Chase Foster secured USF a win in the final 13 seconds of the game in the form of a free throw. His “Hail Mary” shot gave the Dons the 2 points they needed to break the tie and break ahead of the Portland Pilots once and for all.
Foster, junior guard Frankie Ferrari, junior forward Nate Renfro and junior forward Matt McCarthy took it upon themselves to uplift the offense, with each scoring 10 or more points throughout the game. Their power meant that the Dons never trailed behind the Pilots. However, despite the upperclassmen’s offensive accomplishments, the Dons posted their second-lowest winning score of the season – nearly every other win the Dons have had this season has been more offensively dominant.
One of the most trying aspects of being part of a college sports team is the element of travel. While it may seem trite, cruising over highways and jetting over state lines can take its toll on players. In addition to the hardships of away games in general, the Dons’ journey to Brigham Young University for their contest on Saturday was blighted by the subtly crippling effects of altitude, with the campus in Provo, UT being 4,551 feet above sea level.
Coach Kyle Smith predicted the rough turnaround in a post-game video interview after the team’s win on Thursday night. “It’ll be a mental challenge to, y’know, play a tough ballgame physical[ly]. Get a night’s rest, get on a plane, then have to play at two o’clock on Saturday.”
While their defense was on-point throughout the afternoon – having held BYU pointless for 7 continues minutes – the Dons couldn’t quite combat the offensive power of BYU, and the match ended 73-75 in favor of the BYU Cougars.
Despite the loss, the game against BYU made it possible for USF to set a few records and mark off a few milestones. It marked the Dons’ first leap beyond regulation time this season, as the game was forced into overtime. During the game, freshman guard Souley Boum managed to break a USF free throw record (98) that was established by alum Winford Boynes… in the 1975-76 season. If that weren’t enough, Boum’s 303 points have placed him in the Top 10 in USF Men’s Basketball for points scored by a freshman.
Sports are turbulent –– the result of a game can change in the blink of an eye. With both games having ended with USF being within 2 points of the competition, this weekend was a lesson in close calls for the Dons. While these nail-biters make for excitement in the stands, the Dons may try to create more of a buffer in the future in order to avoid a repeat of their disappointment at BYU.
Featured Photo: Junior forward Nate Renfro made a sizeable contribution to USF’s offense over the weekend. CHRIS M. LEUNG/USF DONS ATHLETICS