The USF Men’s Basketball team paid a visit to Southern California to take on West Coast Conference (WCC) foes, Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine, over the weekend. USF has been hot lately, winning six out of their last seven games, four of them against WCC opponents. The team has been playing well but coach Rex Walters will be the first one to tell you that they still need to improve, and this road trip was one of those opportunities for improvement. Side note — since the Dons were obviously playing away from campus, my constant cell-phone score updates were crucial in following the action. Score updates from your cell phone are just another reason why technology is amazing.
On Thursday night, the Dons battled Loyola Marymount until the final seconds when they secured a 61-60 victory over the Lions with Rashad Green’s 3-pointer. Green was the player of the game as he paced the Dons with a 20-point, 12-rebound night, tallying his third career double-double. Although the final score was close, the game was not a tight one until mid-way through the second half. In fact, the LMU Lions controlled the game early on, leading for virtually the entire first half. The game went into halftime with an 8-point LMU lead, 30-22. USF struggled to find its shooting stroke, making just 27.8 percent (10-36) of their shots.
LMU continued to control the game once the second half started, leading by as much as 17 at one point. But USF battled back strongly, going on an impressive 28-7 run that gave them the lead with 8 minutes left. From that point on, the game went back and forth with both teams struggling to string together a series of made baskets.
The victory gave the Dons their fourth consecutive win over a conference opponent, their best conference record to start a season since 1982. Moustapha Diarra also enjoyed a nice game with 15 points in his 18 minutes off the bench. Below is the box score for the game:
Two days later the Dons were in Malibu, California to take on the Pepperdine Waves. On paper it seemed that the Dons should win the game, given their recent winning streak and Pepperdine’s below .500 record. But the outcome was not the expected one as USF surrendered a season, worth 94 points, in the 94-88 loss.
USF enjoyed nice performances by Diarra with a career-high 26 points (11-14), Green with 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, and Marko Petrovic with a career-high 18 points (4-8 on 3-pointers). Although the Dons had a nice offensive night, they simply could not stop Pepperdine’s offense. Five Pepperdine players scored double digits, with Lorne Jackson leading the team with 23 points. The first half action went back and forth as both teams shared the lead for a combined 14 times, with Pepperdine finally holding the lead at 33-31 at halftime.
The second half was full of hot shooting as Pepperdine shot an astonishing 72.7 percent (16-22) to give them 61 points in the second half. But the Dons, too, enjoyed good offensive output as they scored 57 points in the final half. USF will take the offensive explosion but they didn’t do enough on defense to win the ball game.
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