Santa Clara Dominates the Dons

By Kellan King

After a close loss on Thursday night against the league leading Saint Mary’s Gaels, USF welcomed their Bay Area rivals Santa Clara to The Hilltop for a crucial WCC clash. Both teams got off to a quick start in front of a packed War Memorial Gymnasium, trading buckets early. Carlos Stewart had the hot hand for SCU early, scoring ten quick points to give the Broncos a 12-7 lead at the under 16 timeout. 

Khalil Shabazz found his range from downtown for USF, hitting two early threes, including one to cut the lead to three, 14-11. The Broncos responded quickly with a thunderous dunk from Cameron Tongue that got the Broncos fans fired up and extended the lead to six. SCU continued their run, and even got their lead up to 26-13 after a Brandin Podzieski layup, before Shabazz and Tyrell Roberts hit back to back treys to cut the lead down to seven. Shabazz wasn’t done though, hitting his fourth three of the game to make it 26-22.

Both teams went cold from the floor after the under eight timeout, and the Broncos lead stayed right around two possessions. With around two minutes to go, Santa Clara made a little push, and after a Keyshawn Justice three the score was 37-28, Broncos. After a minute of back and forth play, the Dons headed into the locker room trailing 39-30. 

The start of the second half was all Santa Clara, as they attacked USF in the paint and got offensive rebound after rebound. The lead got all the way up 15 after a Jaden Bediako put hook shot, before Khalil Shabazz hit a three to cut it down to 12. Santa Clara took their largest lead of the game after a Podzieski three, but Roberts responded with a pull up three to make it 60-47. 

The lead got all the way up to 17, but USF quickly responded with a 6-0 including four from Shabazz to make it an 11 point game. That would be as close as the Dons would get though, as Santa Clara clamped down on defense and their stars Stewart and Podzieski carried the load offensively. The last four minutes were more of the same, and after the buzzer sounded the score was 83-70, Broncos.

After the game I spoke with Head Coach Chris Gerlufsen

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