Dons and Broncos Brawl on the Hilltop

Six Players Ejected in Comeback Win vs Santa Clara

In an electric game on the Hilltop, the Dons prevailed winning 71-70. Photo courtesy of @usfdonsmbb/Instagram

On a cold Saturday night on the Hilltop, the Dons faced their conference rivals, the Santa Clara Broncos, in a thrilling 71-70 victory. However, the game took a turn when the Broncos and Dons got into a brawl in the second half. 

The altercation took place with 11:51 left in the second half with the Broncos holding a 50-46 lead. Things got heated after Santa Clara forward Camaron Tongue was called for an offensive foul while setting a screen on Dons forward Isaiah Hawthorne, who fell to the floor.  While the players surrounded Hawthorne, guard Marcus Williams came behind Tongue and threw his left shoulder into Tongue’s right shoulder, which caused Tongue to fall to the floor. The incident escalated as Hawthorne and Broncos guard Carlos Marshall Jr. started to press against one another, and soon benches began to clear. Broncos center Christopher Tilly threw a towel where the fight took place. 

After a lengthy review from the officials, each team had three players ejected. For the Broncos it was Marshall Jr., Tilly, and guard Jalen Benjamin. On the Dons’ side they lost Hawthorne and Williams, along with guard Robby Beasley who made his way into the mix.

Santa Clara head coach Herb Sendek and USF head coach Chris Gerlufsen were both called for technical fouls. After the game, Gerlufsen reflected on the brawl saying, “Some unfortunate stuff happened in that second half that I’m not proud of. To have three guys ejected from the game is not smart, and we need to be smarter in those moments because it’s too important.” 

The fight garnered many student reactions, with many questioning what was happening. 

Sophomore design major Caitlyn Asano, who plays the flute for the Dons Marching Band, said, “I thought it was just a mini fight or someone tripping over another player but once adults got involved it felt like hell broke loose, especially hearing everyone’s reaction.”

She added, “I was confused and flabbergasted for a bit until the students started cheering for us and my spirit was bigger than ever.”

Junior entrepreneurship, innovation, and accounting major Moses Tsai was a spectator when the fight took place. He said, “Once the fight broke out, I was really shocked that it happened and at the same time, it was energizing to see the fans of Santa Clara and USF going at each other at an instant.”

Senior advertisement major Dominic Jaikaran had a different way of viewing the situation. “I thought that the player in Santa Clara intentionally drove his shoulder into the USF basketball player. The player was knocked down and I felt it was a cheap shot,” he said. 

He added, “The fight gave me a rush of excitement because I have never seen a fight in a college game in person before.” 

The scuffle was shocking for the crowd to see, even Broncos viewers were startled. Santa Clara student and senior communications major, Thomas Dunn said, “When the fight started, I wasn’t initially sure if I was believing what I was seeing. In all the years I’ve attended, covered, and broadcasted games, I had never seen anything like it.” Dunn is the Sports Editor for The Santa Clara and the Sports Director for KSCU 103.3FM. He added, “This poured kerosene on the fire of this rivalry” 

While the fight was one of the memorable moments in the game, the Dons secured the win with a comeback run. The Broncos had the largest lead of the game in the first half with a 22-0 run over the first six minutes. The lead started to dwindle after guards Barry Wang and Mike Sharavjamts cut the lead to 36-23. The Dons closed out the first half with baskets from guard Malik Thomas, and a Robby Beasley layup ended the half with a Broncos 39-29 lead. 

As the second half started, USF opened up with a 9-2 run, punctuated by Ryan Beasley’s three-pointer. In addition, Sharavjamts cashed a huge three-pointer to make it a one-possession ball game.

The Broncos delayed the comeback as they extended their lead immediately with a 8-2 run, with 3:27 to play. Although both teams took advantage of the double bonus, the Broncos still led 68-61 with 1:25 left to go. Mogbo converted an and-one poster dunk to cut the lead to four points.

The last minute of the game was a free-throw shootout between the two teams but a couple of clutch free throws led the Dons to victory. Mogbo sealed the win, utilizing his effort on the offensive glass while the Dons trailed 70-69. He then made two free throws, giving the Dons the win. This marks the 234th matchup between the Broncos and Dons at the Hilltop. 

The next home game will take place on Saturday, Feb. 24th against the Pepperdine Waves. Students can attend home games for free on their One Card. 

Editor-in-Chief: Megan Robertson, Chief Copy Editor: Sophia Siegel, Managing Editor:Jordan Premmer, Sports Editor: Chase Darden

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