This past weekend the Dons were busy at the WCC tournament held at the Orleans in Las Vegas. The Dons claimed victory in the first round 62-58 against the University of the Pacific (12-19, 4-11 WCC) but fell to 81-72 in the quarterfinals to Gonzaga (30-2, 17-1 WCC).
During USF’s quarterfinal game against Gonzaga the team trailed for a while before erupting for a 17-4 run kicked off by a layup by senior forward Kruize Pinkins and topped off by a 3-pointer by junior guard Tim Derksen. After the run the score stood at 29-22 but Gonzaga worked it back to a 2-point deficit 29-27. During the second half USF held on to the lead but couldn’t pull away. Then Gonzaga exploded on a big 21-3 run of their own to build a 16 point lead.
From then on the Dons trailed the rest of the way until the final buzzer with the lead fluxuating from high single-digits to low double-digits. The closest USF came after the Bulldog’s burst was seven points after a pair of free throws made by freshman guard Devin Watson. Even with three players reaching double-digit point totals, Derksen (21), junior forward Mark Tollefsen (21), and Watson (17), it wasn’t enough to overcome the Przemek Karnowski led Bulldogs. Karnowski had 24 of his own points from a very efficient 10-14 shooting night.
Before USF had their crack at Gonzaga they had to get past the University of the Pacific Tigers the day before. USF’s first lead came with 1:56 remaining in the first half from a 3-pointer made by Watson, 26-24. Going into the break USF and UoP were knotted at 28. The stats at half were nearly identical, both teams were shooting 9-26, USF made four 3-pointers in comparison to UoP’s six but the Dons had two more made free-throws. The Tigers broke the halftime deadlock by splitting a pair of free-throws. USF trailed by that one point for 15 seconds and that was the last time USF would be behind for the rest of the game. The lead didn’t inflate though, the game stayed at a steady pace and it wasn’t until a pair of 3-pointers by Pinkins and senior guard Chris Adams that the lead reached eight, the biggest of the night by either team, 53-45. All starters had double-digits in one statistical category, 14 points by Derksen and Pinkins, 13 by Watson and 10 by Tollefsen, and 10 rebounds by senior guard Matt Glover.
With the season over look forward to men’s basketball again next year when the Dons try to take steps forward and improve from this season.
Photo credit: Dons Athletics