With new bleachers, new uniforms, and a new starting line-up, the Dons came out with a newly acquired energy and intensity possibly inspired by their new coach, Rex Walters. The Dons beat Chico State in an impressive 77 – 49 win in their first game since last year’s frustration of losing their head coach Jesse Evans and getting replacement coach Eddie Sutton. Without the focus being on their coach this season, the Dons looked more comfortable on the court and determined to change their not-so-stellar record from last year.
Dior Lowhorn lead the Dons with 24 points including 2 dunks. He went 9 – 12 on the floor and he also added 5 rebounds. Freshman Chris O’Brien added 12 of the 77 points with four rebounds and two steals. Junior Hyman Taylor, a transfer from Virginia Tech, added 6 points but his defense was impressive on Saturday night with six rebounds and two blocked shots.
Before the game started there was a ceremony for long-time basketball equipment manager (1970 – 2006) Bobby Giron who died in June of 2006. The USF Hall of Famer was honored with a special chair that was added on to the Dons’ bench. It was marked “Bobby” in green and gold letters. The Giron family was invited onto the court and the chair was presented to them.
In the first half the Dons put pressure on the ball and fell back into a tough 1 – 3 – 1 zone trap. It made it hard for the Wildcats of Chico State to get a shot off on the inside and forced them to shoot over the zone. The Dons held the Wildcats to 10 – 42 from the floor and 3 – 14 from the three point line.
The Dons had an impressive .605 average from the floor and .462 average from the three point line. Although the Dons’ tough defensive did not allow the Wildcats to get a lot of shots off from the floor, it did bring the Wildcats to the foul line in the first half. At the end of the first half the Dons led 36 – 26.
By the second half the Dons stuck with their effective zone defense but did not allow as many fouls. The Dons also were effective in penetrating Chico’s zone defense getting them a lot of looks inside the paint. This also allowed the Dons to get to the line more times in the second half, which hurt the Wildcats.
Dior Lowhorn livened up the crowd by making two dunks in the second half. After 10 minutes into the second half, the Dons had taken about a 20 point lead which made it hard for the Wildcats to come back. USF finished them off by winning by 28 points.
After the win, Lowhorn said, “It felt good to get a win like that with a new coach and new team. Defensively and effort-wise we played good.”
The Dons return to War Memorial Gym on Friday against Fresno Pacific at 7 p.m.