USF opened up the basketball season on the road with a win over the University of Illinois – Chicago. The Dons played the Flames at the UIC Pavilion and came out on top with a close 78-75 win. With this win, San Francisco passed their first test of the season. The Dons kept an evenly distributed scoring column with five players finishing with double-digit figures. Senior guard Tim Derksen paced the Dons scoring with 17 points and sophomore guard Devin Watson followed behind closely with 15 points. Junior guard Ronnie Boyce III scored 13 points off the bench and forward Montray Clemons added 10 points of his own. Junior forward Uche Ofoegbu finished with nine points, including a three point play to tie to game with less than three minutes remaining. To add to Derksen’s stat line, he also pulled down 12 rebounds for a double-double.
Overall the Dons shot poorly with only a mediocre 38.1 field goal percentage and an abysmal 53.7 free throw percentage. Despite USF’s low free throw percentage, they were able to maintain their lead with sturdy defense, keeping the Flames to an even worse 36.8 field goal percentage. There was a total of 11 lead changes and eight ties throughout the game and no team led more than six points at any time. As bad of a shooting night as they had San Francisco made clutch plays and stops when they needed them.
In the second half the game really picked up in intensity. With six minutes left in the game the Dons trailed by four points. Ofoegbu knotted the game at 73 all with a three-point play. With only 1:27 remaining in the game, a layup by freshman forward Nate Renfro pushed USF ahead 75-73. With less than a minute remaining in the game, Chicago missed a jumper and two layups, any of which could have tied up the game. Unable to tie the game UIC fouled and sent Watson to the line who made both free throws extending the lead to 77-73. The Flames earned their own trip to the charity stripe nine seconds later and converted both attempts. With a 77-75 scoreline the Dons were able to get the inbound pass to Watson who split the ensuing free throws to top off the scoring for the night. San Francisco walked away victors 78-75.
With a solid start to the season Coach Rex Walters was pleased to see this win but said there’s much to work on and much to improve, such as their free throw percentage. This marks the start of a promising season for the Dons with a quality win on the road. The score for Monday’s game against the Rice Owls was unavailable at the time of print. The next time San Francisco see’s the court it will be on the road Thursday, November 19th. at Fresno State, tip off at 7PM. Follow live stats on usfdons.com.
Photo courtesy of Dons Athletics