The USF men’s and women’s basketball teams were busy on the court over winter break, breaking records, winning key games, but also suffering some tough losses. Both teams kept their win and loss count even over winter break, with the men’s team going 6-6 and the women’s team going 5-5.
The men’s team started off the break with a hard fought win against University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Despite trailing for the majority of the game, the Dons were able to comeback in the final seconds of the game to beat UNLV 75-73, thanks to graduate student Tyrell Roberts’ game-winning three-point shot. Third-year Zane Meeks also played a pivotal role in the win, racking up a career-high 17 rebounds along with 17 points.
The Dons were upset in their following game by a University of Texas, Arlington team that has struggled all season long, losing 63-68. UT Arlington was in control for most of the game despite USF’s continuous efforts. The Dons cut the deficit to only four in the final minute but could not retake the lead. With USF being favored to win the match by 15, this loss was a heartbreaking one. Head coach Chris Gerlufesen was unsurprisingly not very happy postgame, saying “I was disappointed. As a group we have to be a little more mature in handling success.” Hoping the big win against UNLV would act as a catalyst for more success, Gerlufesen instead thought the team “did not approach the game the right way.”
The team bounced back when they faced off against an Arizona State team ranked 25th in the nation. The Dons dominated the Sun Devils from start to finish, winning 97-60. USF concluded their non-conference play the following day with another dominant win, this time against the University of Hartford.
Their start to conference play was not as fortunate, losing to both Santa Clara University and University of San Diego by 12. In both games, the Dons struggled from three point range, shooting less than 30% from behind the arc.
The men’s team then found themselves 0-3 in conference play after suffering a tragic loss to a 9th ranked Gonzaga University team. Hoping to beat the Bulldogs for the first time since 2012, the Dons found themselves up ten at the end of the first half.
USF’s lead was in large part due to their success at stopping Drew Timme, Gonzaga’s star fourth-year power forward. Timme shot horribly throughout the game, going 3-16 from the field, for only 11 points, a drastic decline compared to his season average 21.4 points on 60% shooting.
Despite Timme’s struggles, the Dons lost their footing as the game went on. Gonzaga adjusted and found more success on offense. Graduate student Khalil Shabazz in the postgame press conference mentioned how the team strayed from the game plan that worked so well for the Dons earlier in the game and it showed. Gonzaga took advantage of USF’s late game mistakes, narrowing USF’s lead to only five with just under three minutes left. Tied at 75 with under ten seconds left, Gonzaga’s fourth-year guard, Rasir Bolton, hit the game-winning putback layup off of a Timme miss, making the final score 77-75.
The men’s team could not find much consistency with the remainder games during winter break, going back and forth from the win to loss column over the next five games. In the midst of the fives games, Shabazz broke the school record for most made three pointers in a career, passing Jordan Ratinho’s previous record of 251 in the 92-87 loss against the University of Portland.
The women’s team broke records of their own during the break; after not scoring a single three pointer in a crushing 77- 46 loss to Portland, the Dons set a school record of 16 made threes in a 91-80 victory over University of the Pacific. After the game, fourth-year Jessica McDowell-White’s explanation of team performance was simple, “we just took what was open.” Third-year Ioanna Krimili, who was responsible for seven of the team’s 16 threes and finished the game with 30 points credited her teammates for the success, “My teammates were setting me screens the whole night, Jessica was finding me, so my job was easy, I just had to make the shot.”
Krimili changed the USF record books herself the following game against Saint Mary’s College (SMC). Despite the losing 67-63, Krimili was dominant, scoring 29 points, which was more than enough to become fifth in all-time points scored at USF. Krimili was USF’s go-to scorer the entire game, but as the game winded down, SMC adjusted and it was clear fatigue began to set in for Krimili and the rest of the team. In the postgame press conference, head coach Molly Goodenbour spoke of the team’s dependence on Krimili, “we are going to ride Io for as long as we can, she’s such a phenomenal shooter and player,” — but continued — “we are needing to find other ways to score the basketball.”
Goodenbour also emphasized the team’s struggles with post scoring ever since second-year power forward Debora dos Santos came down with an injury. “It’s a work in progress as we adjust to not having one of our better players [dos Santos] on the court,” said Goodenbour. Dos Santos has been the Dons’ number one post option this season. She is always aggressive in the paint, averaging 12.7 points and 7.2 rebounds for the season. Unfortunately, Goodenbour said there is still no estimate of when she might be back on the court this season, pushing the team to adapt.
Dos Santos’ absence against Brigham Young University was evident when BYU Cougars out-rebounded the Dons 46-24. The rebound numbers translated to the scoreboard as BYU was victorious, winning 78-59. Afterwards, Goodenbour plainly said, “At the end of the day, we got to figure out a way to rebound better without Deb.”
The Dons were able to end their winter break on a high, winning on the road against San Diego, 69-56. The team consistently found ways to score, with four players finishing with double-digit points. Krimili led the way in scoring for the Dons, finishing with an efficient 18 points off of 7-12 shooting.
The women’s team is currently placed fifth in the West Coast Conference with a 15-7 record, while the men’s team is in sixth with a 15-9 record. There are still plenty of games left in the season for both teams, meaning a lot of opportunities for both teams to climb up the standings. The women’s team will be facing off against Portland here on the Hilltop today. On the same night the men’s team will be traveling to Moraga, California to face off against SMC.
Students can attend all campus games for free with the use of their One Card.