By Kellan King
It’s not often in college basketball that you play the same team in back to back games, but in a world with COVID shifting schedules, that is the situation the San Francisco Dons and Portland Pilots found themselves in on Tuesday night. After a grueling 3 point win on Saturday night, USF came into tonight’s game looking to make adjustments and keep themselves out of a similarly close game.
The Dons got off to a slow start, shooting 1-8 and falling behind 4-2. USF was able to dominate the offensive glass early, but failed to capitalize. After more poor shooting from the Dons and a barrage of midrange jumpers from Portland, the score was 14-3 Pilots. The Dons were able to find their rhythm, with Gabe Stefanini hitting back to back 3s to cut the lead to 5.
Then Portland was able to get to its bread and butter: the free throw line. The Pilots were able to get into the bonus with around 10 minutes in the half, and slow some of the USF momentum. The game continued at a slow pace, with Portland feeding Tyler Robertson and Chris Austin in the post, with little success, and USF looking stagnant on offense. The Dons were able to get some momentum late in the half, with Jamaree Bouyea, Yauhen Massalski, and Zane Meeks leading the Dons on a 20-7. At the half, USF led 29-24.
Just like the first half, the second half started out slow. The teams traded stops, with the USF lead holding steady around 5. At times, it looked like the Dons were going to be able to extend their lead, but the Pilots hung tough. In fact, with 11:30 to go, Portland took a 1 point lead before Julian Rishwain hit a 3 to put USF back up. Portland would continue to battle though, and behind some tough buckets from Moses Wood, took a 6 point lead, 49–43.
Down the stretch it was more of the same. Jamaree Bouyea and Kristian Sjolund traded buckets, and Portland continued to stay in the game. Down the stretch, Sjolund hit 2 clutch 3s, and Portland made enough free throws to hold on to a 69-68 win.
The Dons looked tired tonight. However, they will have to regroup and get ready for Thursday against Pepperdine. Every game from here on out is close to a must win now for USF.