Men’s Basketball Loses Back-to-Back Games to Portland, Gonzaga

Gonzaga Basketball Game
The Don’s defense attempts to slow down the Gonzaga Bulldog’s offense and pull off the upset, but USF fails to hold them off and go on to lose 78-73. (Nicholas Mukar|Foghorn)

This past Thursday night, Feb. 12, the Dons faced off the Portland Pilots in an upsetting 72-67 loss in War Memorial Gym. The Pilots lived up to their reputation as the West Coast Conference’s leading 3-point scorers as the Dons were unable to ward off their hot streak.

The Pilots fired off the close game with a surge from their offense. With a first quarter scoreboard reading 21-8 just eight minutes into the game, many believed this would be an easy win for the Pilots. However, the Dons turned to their top scorer, and the West Coast Conference’s top scorer, Dior Lowhorn.

Dior scored 12 points for the Dons in the first half, lifting the crowd and team mates’ spirits. This was only 12 of the 24 points Lowhorn scored in the entire game. The Dons managed a 15-0 run as Portland only managed eight more points by halftime. The score was 29-27 going into half time.
Lowhorn brought the Dons into the lead with the first four points of the second half, with the scoreboard now reading 33-27. However, Portland quickly answered back with five 3-pointers in four minutes, including a 23-6 run that left the Dons with an 11 point deficit.

The scoreboard now read 50-39 with less than 12 minutes remaining in the game. Within the next seven minutes the Dons scored 10 points, and the Pilots scored 15, making the deficit now 16 points with five minutes to go.

The Dons fired back with many more points, but could not manage to fill the five-point deficit that remained for the rest of the game. Despite the Dons’ incredible offensive playing and promising outcome, it was not enough to overcome the Pilots’ 3-point weapon.

A steal and two free throws by Portland freshman Angelo Caloiaro cut the lead to 69-64 with 17 seconds, but a pair of free throws by Nik Raivio won them the game. The Dons could not get back from their five-point deficit, as Portland won their seventh of their last eight games.

Jared Stohl led the Pilots with 16 points, while T.J Campbell added 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Campbell was five for seven beyond the arc, as Stohl finished four for five in his three-point shots. Robin Smeulders added 12 points and seven rebounds for the Pilots.

This was the first road win for the Pilots over the Dons since 2001 and the first season sweep of the Dons since 1995.Portland now has a season record of (16-8, 7-2 WCC) as they go on to challenge St. Mary’s this Saturday.

The Dons, now (9-16, 1-9 WCC) go on to challenge the Gonzaga Bulldogs this Saturday night at 8pm in War Memorial Gym. Gonzaga leads the West Coast Conference in wins this season.
The proud USF men’s basketball gold jerseys worn by eager players and fans were not enough to ward off the Gonzaga Bulldogs this past rainy Valentine’s Day in War Memorial Gym. Although the final score was close, a remarkable 78-73 finish, the Dons could not keep the Bulldogs from their 11-0 West Coast Conference winning streak.

The Dons were at a disadvantage as they were undermanned by four key players in this weekend’s games due to a dispute with coach Rex Walters during a practice. Most notably, the Dons’ second-leading scorer, Manny Quezada, was not able to play in both the unsuccessful game against Portland or Saturday night’s game against Gonzaga. Centers James Morgan and Hyman Taylor along with Chioke Walker were also suspended. Despite the absence of these four valuable players, the Dons put up an incredible fight as they remained neck and neck with the Bulldogs throughout the entire game.

The first half was one of much excitement, as both teams held a promising outlook for a West Coast Conference win. The Bulldogs powered through with an average of 65 percent shooting. The Dons’ offense was right up there with the Bulldogs as USF forward Dior Lowhorn scored 15 points in the first half of the game. The Bulldogs met their match when they experienced 12 turnovers, and five three-pointers before heading into overtime with the scoreboard reading 41-37 in their favor.

Lowhorn got the crowd rumbling and the scoreboard beaming when he scored a three-point shot early in the second half, bringing the game to an enticing 49-49 tie. Although the Dons managed nine more three-pointers in the second half, the Bulldogs’ Micah Downs quickly responded to Lowhorn’s efforts with another three-point shot. Bulldog Josh Heytvelt went on to score 10 points for Gonzaga.

The Dons were unable to score enough points to beat the Bulldogs after Downs’ shot, yet the game remained a close one. By the game’s finish, Lowhorn had scored a total of 23 points for the Dons. Lowhorn is the conference’s leading scorer, and scored eight more points against Gonzaga than the last time the Dons played them in mid-January.

USF forward Blake Wallace earned an impressive 19 points for the Dons, a true testament to his growth as a player – as he averaged 12.9 points last season. Guards Chris O’Brien, Kwame Vaughn and Dontae Bryant were among other Dons who greatly helped their total scoring of 73 points.

The Dons’ last played game against the Bulldogs on Jan. 17 was an unsuccessful 85-51 loss. It is safe to say that with all things being considered—four men down, and a previous landslide loss against the number one team in the West Coast Conference—a 78-73 loss shows much promise for our Dons.

The Dons go on to play their rivals, the Santa Clara Broncos, next Saturday in War Memorial Gym at 7:00 p.m. The Dons stand now at (9-16, 1-9 WCC), as the Broncos stand now at (13-14, 5-5).

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