By Kellan King
In their first tournament appearance in nearly 2015 years, the San Francisco Dons were not just in it to take part. They wanted to compete and advance, and while they were not able to get to the Round of 32, they certainly competed and put on a show for everyone watching in Indianapolis and across the country.
Without big man Yauhen Massalski for the second straight game, USF was going to have some trouble containing Murray State big man KJ Williams. Williams got to work early, scoring 7 quick points and getting the Racers out to an early 7 point lead. Both teams would battle, playing good defense, and struggling a little on offense. The Dons would get a boost from Zane Meeks, who scored 10 points in the first half. After a Jamaree Bouyea floater to end the half, USF led 37-36.
In the second half, both teams started to pick it up. Early in the half, Trae Hannibal scored 5 straight to even up the score at 44 a piece, before a 4-0 Dons run gave them their largest lead of the game. The Racers did not give in though, going on a 6-0 run of their own to retake the lead. Then, Jamaree Bouyea started to take over. He scored 6 in just under 2 minutes, keeping USF in the game when their 3s just weren’t falling. However, with around 6 minutes, USF started to falter. After a Tevin Brown 3 with just around 4 minutes to play, the Dons found themselves trailing 69-60.
After a timeout, the Dons responded. Khalil Shabazz and Gabe Stefanini hit a pair of 3s, and Jamaree Bouyea hit two free throws to cut the lead to 3.. After a stop, Bouyea had the ball in his hands with 30 seconds left. He dribbled to the top of the key, drove left, and hit a step back 3 to tie the game up at 73. The ensuing Murray State possession was chaotic, and they did not get a shot off.
Going into overtime, it would’ve been easy for Murray State to give into the Dons momentum. But give in they did not. Both teams could not get a stop, with Tevin Brown and KJ Williams getting buckets, and Bouyea returning the favor for the Dons. The Dons would end up falling short though, and Murray State knocked down 3 clutch free throws to seal a 93-89 win.