By Kellan King
Last night’s clash between USF and Saint Mary’s was a matchup between familiar foes, and 2 of the top teams in the WCC. A win for USF would’ve solidified their place in the NCAA Tournament, and a SMC win would further boost an already strong resume.
The game started out even, with the teams trading buckets, and Gabe Stefanini knocking down 2 threes to give USF an early 9-5. Saint Marys caught a tough break when 2nd leading scorer Alex Ducas left after 4 minutes with a lower back injury, leaving SMC without one of their best scorers.
Tommy Kuhse stepped up in Ducas’ absence. He ran the pick and roll to perfection in the first half, changing speeds and getting to the bucket with ease to stabilize the Gaels. An 11-0 Gaels run gave them a 31-22 lead with 6 minutes to play in the 1st half. The Dons responded, with Khalil Shabazz scoring 8 points, and cutting the lead down to 5 at the half.
The story of the 2nd half seemed to be USF cutting the lead to 2 or 3, and Saint Marys responding. 4 or 5 times the Dons went on runs, led by Stefanini and Shabazz, only for Kuhse and Matthias Tass to respond with timely buckets.
Saint Marys controlled the game though, and with 5 minutes to play, found themselves up 9. USF continued to fight, but couldn’t get the crucial shots to drop. SMC held on to get a big 69-64 win.
The story of the game was the Dons leading scorer Jamaree Bouyea being limited to 2 points. He seemed sluggish, so much so that Coach Todd Golden said he took him out in crunch time because he seemed tired. Bouyea and the Dons will need to rest up, and refocus for Mondays clash against Pacific.
After the game I spoke with Head Coach Todd Golden