On Saturday, Jan. 25, the Dons held off a late charge from rival Santa Clara and took home the victory by a score of 75-66. The victory came in large part due to the Dons’ 41-24 rebounding advantage over the Broncos, a fitting performance on Ollie Johnson Night, which celebrated the USF career of the second all-time rebounder and included the retirement of his jersey.
Senior forward Cole Dickerson led the team with 28 points, seven of which came in the last 6:31 of the game and were key to shutting down a spirited Broncos rally. A Dickerson three-pointer capped a 12-6 Dons run and gave them a 66-54 lead with 3:30 to go. After Santa Clara pushing the lead down to four with a little less a minute remaining, junior forward Kruize Pinkins sealed the game with a dunk off of a pass from sophomore guard Avry Holmes. Pinkins was also fouled on the play, and he hit the free throw to put an exclamation point on his 14-point night. For the Broncos, guard Jared Brownridge led the game in scoring with an efficient 30 points, making eight shots on 14 attempts as well as hitting nine of his 10 free throws.
One of the biggest plays of the night came in the first half as junior guard Matt Glover made an emphatic block that led to a Dickerson layup in transition, giving the Dons a 29-14 lead. The block was the highlight of a strong defensive effort in the first half by the Dons, who held the Broncos to 28.5% shooting and only 22 points in the first 20 minutes of play.
The effort shown in the first half by the Dons also carried over to the second, as Santa Clara ended the game shooting only 39% and scoring only four second-chance points. The final rebound tally told the story, with rebound totals of 13 from Glover and 8 from Dickerson adding fuel to the Dons’ fire.
Head coach Rex Walters was pleased with how the team performed in the game’s most critical moments.
“I loved how our guys stepped up at the end of the game and made plays,” Walters said. “I think of Avry [Holmes] getting double-teamed in the corner but still finding Kruize [Pinkins] for a dunk on the other end. Plays like that are special.”
The night also featured a ceremony for former USF player Ollie Johnson where his number 32 jersey was given its own place in the rafters of War Memorial Gym. The event included an appearance from USF President Fr. Stephen Privett, S.J., who read a letter from United States President Barack Obama that congratulated Johnson for his accomplishment.
“This special tribute is a testament to the lasting mark you have left on the University of San Francisco community,” the letter said. “I hope you take pride in your achievements on and off the court, and I wish you all the best.”
In his three seasons with the team Johnson scored 1,668 points, grabbed 1,323 rebounds, was named WCC Player of the Year twice, and led the team to the NCAA tournament every year. He was selected eighth overall in the 1965 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics but never played for them in a game, instead going on to play for the San Francisco Athletic Club and then overseas in Belgium.
With Ollie Johnson and his group of former teammates watching, the Dons improved to 13-8 with the win over the Broncos. San Francisco will resume play on Wednesday, Jan. 29 when they go up against the University of Portland at 7:00 p.m. at War Memorial Gym.