GAME NOTES: The San Francisco Dons will continue their season-long five-game homestand at War Memorial Gymnasium on Wednesday night when they take on the Portland Pilots in West Coast Conference action.
Portland's season as a whole has been rather impressive, as it sits with a 12-9 record overall, but it has underperformed in WCC play with just a 4-5 mark. The Pilots are losers of two of three, most recently dropping a home tilt versus San Diego on Saturday, 65-63.
USF has had much more success in league action, winning six of its nine WCC matchups, two games out of first place. The Dons have won two straight over San Diego (64-63) and most recently Santa Clara on Saturday (75-66) to improve to 13-8 overall and 10-4 on their home floor.
The Dons lead the all-time series with Portland, 51-26, but Portland snapped a six-game losing streak in the series the last time out with a 78-76 triumph in San Francisco on Feb. 14, 2013.
Although the Pilots' deficit never grew to double figures in the second half of their most recent contest, they also never tied the game or took the lead, as they failed to overtake USD and fell on the wrong end of the two-point decision. They shot a mere 38.3 percent from the field, while allowing their opponent to make 50 percent of its tries from the floor. Kevin Bailey paced the losing effort with 21 points, Riley Barker came off the bench to tally 10 points and eight rebounds and Ryan Nicholas chipped in eight points and 11 boards.
Portland has had plenty of offensive success this season, shooting 45.7 percent from the field for 77.4 ppg, which is more than enough to support its less-than-stellar scoring defense (71.5 ppg). Bailey is the catalyst with 17.2 ppg on 44.2 percent from the field (39.1 percent from 3-point range). Nicholas is a nightly double-double threat with 12.7 ppg and 9.2 rpg, and Thomas Van Der Mars is another solid frontcourt piece with 12.3 ppg and 6.6 rpg.
The Dons built up a 12-point halftime lead versus Santa Clara over the weekend and held on down the stretch for the nine-point victory by shooting 49 percent from the field, 82.1 percent at the foul line and earning a 41-24 advantage on the boards. Cole Dickerson tied a season high with 28 points on 12-of-17 from the floor to go with eight rebounds. Kruize Pinkins and Mark Tollefson poured in 14 and 12 points, respectively, while Matt Glover pulled down 13 rebounds.
On the season, USF has been vulnerable on the defensive end of the floor, as it allows its opponents to net just under 75 ppg, but luckily it is able to make up for it with an outstanding offensive attack, shooting 48.3 percent from the floor (25th in the nation) for 77.4 ppg. Dickerson is one of the WCC's best forwards, shooting 52.6 percent from the field while tallying 14.6 ppg and 7.5 rpg. Pinkins (12.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg), Avry Holmes (11.6 ppg) and Mark Tollefson (11.4 rpg) are also regular contributors, with Holmes having drained a team-best 34 3-pointers at a lofty 43.6 percent clip.
Both teams have prolific scoring attacks and underwhelming defenses, so expect a high-scoring affair in this one, with USF taking advantage of its home court down the stretch to pull out the victory.
Game Date and Time