Men’s Basketball Honors their Seniors

The senior members of the basketball team were greeted by friends and family and honored at midcourt pregame. Pictured from left to right: Justin Bieker, Josh Kunen, Chris Gerlufsen, Jake Cioe, Isaiah Hawthorne, Volodymyr Markovetskyy. Photo courtesy of @usfdonsmbb/Instagarm

On the Hilltop last Saturday night, the Dons secured their 22nd overall and 11th conference victory of the season with a 92-68 win against the Pepperdine Waves after a pre-game tribute to the USF seniors. The Senior Night ceremony highlighted guards Justin Bieker and Jake Cioe, forwards Isaiah Hawthorne and Josh Kunen along with center Volodymyr Markovetskyy

Bieker played in 32 games for the Dons, played a career-high 15 minutes in the Dons first WCC game against the University of Pacific, and won a NABC Honors Court for Academic Excellence award in the 2021-22 season. 

Cioe joined as a walk-on player in 2021 and made his collegiate debut on Nov. 13, 2022 against University of California, Merced. 

Hawthorne started out as a redshirt player and has become an integral part of the Dons’ program, playing an overall 58 games, and hitting his career-high 20 points on six for nine shooting with five three-pointers on Dec. 12, 2022 against the University of Hartford. 

In an interview with the SF Standard, Hawthorne said, “I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here, on and off the court, and growing up as a man.”

Kunen became one of the most active members of the team, as he made the single season record tying eighth for playing 34 games in his junior year. He shot a team-high and a career-high 44.8% from three-point range and 30 three-point field goals in his junior season. He also notably made the go-ahead three-point field goal in double-overtime in the Dons’ 2022-23 WCC quarterfinal win against Santa Clara. In addition to the win, Kunen ended his career at the Hilltop on a high note becoming the all-time leader in games won for the program, with 99 wins. 

Markoveskyy made an impact as USF’s big man. He received the WCC All-Academic Honorable Mention in his junior year, appeared in 57 games as a Don, and averaged a career-high 3.5 points and 1.9 rebounds in 8.4 minutes per game. 

Head Coach Chris Gerlufsen said, “Our program values the relationships and the bonds that are forged over many years. These guys mean a lot to me, and to us in the locker room. They’ve been great representations of what college players should be, and respecting our class at the university level.”

“I’m really proud of our team,” he continued. “This was a tough game that came off a tough loss on Tuesday in Moraga [against the St. Mary’s Gaels] in a game that we expected to win and did not go our way.”

Saturday’s game showcased a notable performance from junior forward Ndewedo ‘Chips’ Newbury being named as the Player of the Game after finishing with 19 points, five rebounds, three assists, one block and a steal on nine-for-12 shooting. 

Newbury reflected on how to improve his game, saying, “I definitely need to develop a more consistent three-point shot and defensive rebounding.”

He added, “I definitely become more offensive minded rather than defensively, I think the next step for me is to have the same motor as I have on the other side of the basketball.”

Gerlufsen straightened the focus of the team saying, “We know that we have to be at our best to compete and give ourselves a chance to win.” He added, “We are trying to stay extremely shortsighted and focus on what’s next. I think that’s been good for our team all year.” 

The final game in San Francisco for the men’s basketball team will take place this Thursday vs. the Gonzaga Bulldogs at the Chase Center. Doors will open at 7 pm and the game will start at 8 pm. Tickets are on sale on the Chase Center website. 

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *