In an extremely hard-fought battle between two strong offensive squads, it was the University of Nevada, Reno Wolfpack that came out on top over USF on Friday, Nov. 16. Nevada edged the Dons 92-90, and the tight loss dwarfed what was a fantastic night for senior point guard Cody Doolin, who scored a career-high 33 points. Doolin’s previous career-high in points scored was 28 against St. Mary’s in the 2012 WCC Championship Tournament.
On Monday, The Dons stumbled out of the gate, trailing 25-13 early before recovering to take a 44-39 lead going into halftime. However, Idaho State
USF and Nevada fought until the very end, with the game featuring seven lead changes and many dramatic moments. The Dons excelled on offense in the first half; USF shot 6-for-14 on three-point shots and had a 36-26 lead with 4:16 remaining. The Dons eventually settled with a 43-41 lead at halftime.
San Francisco built a 55-44 lead with 16:04 left in the game, but Nevada came storming back. The Dons could not find a way to stop Wolfpack senior Deonte Burton, who repeatedly broke down the USF defense in the second half. Burton scored 31 points in the game, and 23 of them came in the second half. In less than five minutes of play, the Wolfpack had erased the double digit deficit to take a 63-62 lead with 11:30 remaining in the game.
The game went back and forth until a three-pointer by Burton put Nevada up 75-72 and gave them the lead for good. Still, USF had their opportunities to break through numerous times. With 57.1 seconds remaining in the game, Doolin sped through every Nevada player to make a clutch layup to shorten Nevada’s lead to 90-87. After Nevada was called for a 10-second backcourt violation, Doolin was fouled and made a pair of free throws. Then, with 8.3 seconds remaining, Wolfpack freshman DJ Fenner missed two free throws to keep the score at 92-90 and give the Dons one last chance.
After USF called a timeout, Doolin raced toward the other side of the court only to have the ball stripped by senior Jerry Evans Jr. of Nevada. The Wolfpack kept control of the ball for the remaining seconds and won the game.
Even with the loss, it was hard to overlook Doolin’s presence on the court. He finished the night shooting 12-for-17 overall, and went 3-for-4 on three-point shots and 6-for-8 on free throws.
“(Nevada is) a really a good team, and they play really physical,” Doolin said. “It was a really hard-fought game, and unfortunately we just didn’t come out on top.”
This was the second straight game for the Dons in which they played a very intense, down-to-the wire contest against a physical team. However, USF could not post another close victory as they did against Cleveland State on Nov. 14, as Nevada used their physicality to their advantage, winning the rebounding battle 39-34.
“I missed a few block outs there, and the whole team just needed to rebound a little better. I thought that was the key, they just out-rebounded us tonight,” Doolin said.
While Doolin racked up the points, the rest of the Dons could not follow up his excellent performance. Junior guard Matt Glover and sophomore forward Mark Tollefsen were the only others to reach double digits, with each scoring 10 points. Also, sophomore guard Tim Derksen and senior forward Cole Dickerson missed a couple of three-point shots late in the game that could have shifted the momentum in the Dons’ favor.
The Dons know that they will have to play better late in games in order to thrive in conference play. For now, USF will go on the road for two games to face Montana at 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 22 and Oregon at 5:00 p.m. on Nov. 24.
Photo by Emily Bogden