The Dons (13-17, 7-11 WCC) finished their final home game like they did their season, strong. Senior night, on Saturday the 28th, went exactly as the team would have wanted. Senior guard Kruize Pinkin’s 18 points helped USF triumph over the University of the Pacific Tigers (12-18, 4-14 WCC) to wrap up their regular season, 65-55. Just a few nights before, on Thursday against Saint Mary’s (21-8, 13-5), they unfortunately fell victim to hot shooting and found themselves on the losing end 53-84.
Saturday nights win against UoP was the Dons 13th win of the season and eighth at home, giving them an even .500 record at home this season. Throughout the entire first half the two teams played nearly identical ball. At one point the Tigers opened up a six-point lead, the biggest of the half, from three-point land. USF was able to close the gap by half and went into the break down two, 27-29. At the break Pinkins led the way with 11 points. Although the team was shooting poorly from range, 2-10, the Dons were shooting an efficient 8-13 elsewhere to keep the game close. From the start of the second half until the 13:18 mark the score knotted on three different occasions. Pinkins earned the third tie with a 3-pointer, then junior guard Mark Tollefsen dropped in a 2-point jumper to continue a 12-0 USF run which was topped off by a layup by junior guard Tim Derksen. After the run USF were on the comfortable end of a double-digit lead, 57-47, a lead that they would never give up for the rest of the game. At the final buzzer the score read 65-55 and USF’s senior night went just how the seniors had wanted, with a plus-one in the win column. Although the Dons were outrebounded 30-34 they took full advantage of Pacific’s 18 turnovers and turned them into 24 points. USF’s bench also gave them a huge 26-10 advantage over the Tigers. The night ended with four double-digit scorers: Pinkins (18), Tollefsen (14), Derksen (12) and freshman guard Devin Watson (12).
On Thursday night against Saint Mary’s the game didn’t play out the way the Dons had wanted. From the opening bucket USF was playing catch up to a team that was seemingly in a zone, making contested three after contested three. With 8:30 remaining in the first half the Dons were down 15-26. The Gaels lead seemingly never stopped growing, even with a three-pointer from senior guard Chris Adams to get the crowd cheering the score still read 28-46. At half the score was 29-49. The obvious difference between the two teams was 3-point shooting, 11-17 for SMC in comparison to 4-10 for USF. As the second half progressed it was more of the same but this time the Gaels were doing their work from midrange and down low. At the final buzzer the score was 53-84, the Gaels had shot 14-27 from distance and outrebounded the Dons 41-24. Derksen was the Dons leading scorer and only double-digit scorer for the night with 12 points. Pinkins was active on the glass pulling down 10 boards.
Farewell and thank you to USF’s mens senior ball players: guard Chris Adams, guard Matt Glover, guard Corey Hilliard, guard Gavin Hoffman, and forward Kruize Pinkins. It’s not over quite yet though. Be sure to support the men as they head to Las Vegas for the WCC tournament and square off once again against University of the Pacific in the first round Friday at 6:00 PM PST. Follow the boxscores on usfdons.com or espn.com.
Photo credit: Hamis Al Sharif/Foghorn