By Tala Dayyat
War Memorial Gymnasium was filled with students and alumni as the Dons men’s basketball team faced off against one of its biggest rivals, the Santa Clara Broncos. The energy in the stadium was electrifying as the game began because everyone knew it was a special event for the University of San Francisco community. The game was televised by ESPNU, the first time a USF sporting event has ever been nationally broadcasted. The game was also notable due to every audience member’s white attire, part of the “White out the Hilltop” event. The game ended with a huge turnaround by the Don’s in the second half, resulting in a win with a score of 85 to 69.
The men’s team had a rough start with the defense in the first half, struggling to keep up with the Broncos power offense, who began the game with an almost immediate 11 point lead. Both sides got extremely physical as well, with players like Angelo Caloiaro being fouled hard by SCUs aggressive defense. The first half ended with the Dons trailing with 38 points for the Broncos and 32 for the Dons. In the second half the men came back stronger, with more assists, rebounds and steals. Cody Doolin coming from the first half with only 4 points scored lead the team with 21 points and 7 assists, sinking those three point shots with ease. Doolin stated that there was a “slow response” in the beginning of the game and that it was a “lacksidasical” first half. However he and his teammates brought it together in the second half “And I’m glad we did!”, he stated happily after the game.
When asked about Santa Clara’s performance during the game and this season, Doolin stated that “they had some heavy losses” in regards to their teammates and that in the end “It doesn’t matter what the records are, they have an amazing team”. He enthusiastically explained his admiration for Santa Clara’s team and wished them all the best. Angelo Caloiaro said, “It was a rivalry game…that the intensity would be higher in a game like this”.
“Its players who win games and coaches who lose them” Coach Rex Walters explained, when asked how he feels about his team’s victorious ending. Coach Walters was also a part of a big milestone here in Memorial gym as it is the 500th Don victory tonight against our bay area rival. When asked about this win coach humbled himself to his team and said this was their victory. Coach Walters mimicked the response his players had in regards to Santa Clara stating that they effectively knew how to “put us on our heels” and “were able to stick to a game plan”
The win tonight was a good start to a very tough line up for the USF Dons, who will be playing University of San Diego, BYU, Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s in the coming weeks, leading up to the WCC tournament in Las Vegas in three weeks time.