In Saturday night’s matchup on the Hilltop, the USF Dons defeated Santa Clara 66-75, snapping a two game losing streak against the Broncos, and advance to third place in the WCC.
Now 13-8 overall (6-3 in division), the Dons have won their second straight. Dons power forward Cole Dickerson, the squad’s only senior, continued his hot streak, leading the team in scoring with a 30 point performance, shooting 12-17 from the field. After the game, Dickerson spoke about how he was able to score the ball efficiently.
“Kruize, Mark, and Avry are all good players who can draw double teams. With them being so good, it can open up the floor sometimes for me, this is one of the more complete games we’ve played this season” he said.
Overall this was a solid team effort; with junior forward Kruize Pinkins and sophomore forward Mark Tollefsen both scoring 14 points. As a team the Dons shot at 49% from the field (22% from beyond the arc), and held the Broncos to just 39% from the field, and 30% from beyond the arc. Trailing 4-6 after the opening two minutes, the Dons responded with a 14-2 run, and never lost the lead, heading into the locker room with a twelve point advantage at the half.
After a slow start for both teams in the second half, the Broncos began clawing their way back in the game by forcing turnovers and three-point shooting. The deficit was cut to six with eleven minutes remaining before Dons head coach Rex Walters called a timeout. After the timeout, the Dons grinded out the remaining ten minutes with solid perimeter defense and good three point shooting, and held the lead the rest of the game to seal the 75-66 victory. Coach Rex Walters spoke about what adjustments they made defensively to take back control of the game.
“I thought we did a good job with 39 field goal percentage defense, and their a perimeter team so we had to focus on their three-point shooters, for the most part we did a good job, Brownridge was really the only guy that hurt us,” he said.
Rex Walters has gotten a lot of mileage out of his young team, with four players averaging double digit scoring so far this season (Cole Dickerson, Kruize Pinkins, Avry Holmes, and Mark Tollefsen). The Dons have won 13 games with nine still remaining; they won just 15 games last season.
“A year of experience has made a difference. Last year Avry was a freshman, Mark was a freshman, and this is Cole’s first year being the guy, when he was more of a complimentary player last year. Kruize Pinkins has added an extra dimension for us with his post play and skill on the perimeter,” he said.
The Dons are currently in third place in the WCC, two games behind St. Mary’s, and three games behind first place Gonzaga. Portland, who currently sits one game behind the Dons, comes to town this Wednesday night, when Rex Walters and the Dons will try to keep things rolling.