GAME NOTES: Tied with nationally-ranked Gonzaga atop the West Coast Conference standings, the San Francisco Dons find themselves matched up against the Saint Mary's Gaels at McKeon Pavilion today.
While Gonzaga was suffering a rare loss to Portland on Thursday night, dropping the Bulldogs to 4-1 in conference play, the Dons were turning the trick against Pacific on the road in an 81-72 overtime final.
San Francisco, which has also captured all but one of its five league bouts, has won three straight games and five of the last six overall and is now an even 3-3 in true road games.
Meanwhile, the Gaels are in the midst of a lengthy six-game homestand, and will not be back out on the road until Jan. 30 when they visit San Diego. The run at McKeon Pavilion has already covered a pair of decisions, the first being an 84-46 victory over William Jessup on Monday, but then a 57-55 setback to Santa Clara two nights ago.
In a relationship that dates back to the 1945-46 campaign, USF owns an 82-59 advantage in the all-time series with the Gaels, although the Dons have lost 16 in a row to SMC and have not come out on top since the 2005-06 campaign. The schedule for the Dons has SMC visiting the Bay Area on Feb. 20 to complete the regular-season series.
In a game that featured five ties and four lead changes, it wasn't until overtime that the Dons stretched their advantage to double digits in the win against Pacific. Avry Holmes scored 18 points and handed out eight assists for the visitors, followed by Matt Glover and Cole Dickerson with 16 and 14 points, respectively, the pair also combining for 17 rebounds. San Francisco was outscored 30-19 at the free-throw line, but the team countered by holding the hosts to just 31.6 percent shooting from the floor and 6-of-23 beyond the arc.
The Dons have had a different leading scorer in each of the last three outings, but overall the top man is Dickerson with his 13.4 ppg. Dickerson is also first on the glass with 7.4 rpg, but his physical play has resulted in three disqualifications, while his abysmal 47.5 percent shooting at the free- throw line also hampered the team's growth. Kruise Pinkins (11.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg) is second in both scoring and rebounding, but he has bowed out of five games early as well for a group that could honestly be scoring even more than 78.7 ppg at the moment.
Ahead by 13 points with just over two minutes to play in the first half, the Gaels appeared to be well on their way to another win on Thursday night versus Santa Clara, but somehow SMC fell apart in the second half. Again, with time winding down in the meeting, the Gaels led by a point on a trey by Stephen Holt, but then the hosts surrendered a 3-pointer to the Broncos in the final moments. Brad Waldow produced 17 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots, followed by Beau Levesque and James Walker III with 12 points apiece in the losing effort.
Like the Dons, SMC has been a bit inconsistent of late, with a different leading scorer emerging in the last four outings. Nevertheless, the top performer overall has been Waldow with his 15.6 ppg and 7.3 rpg, adding 31 blocked shots in order to give the Gaels an interior defensive presence. Holt (12.9 ppg), Levesque (11.9 ppg) and Walker III (11.3 ppg) have carried this team to 74.5 ppg and everyone has had a hand in limiting the opposition to just 64.8 ppg.
A dominant team in their own building, these are the sort of games that the Gaels must win in over to give themselves the momentum needed to compete in the second half of the campaign.
Game Date and Time