Dons Dominate Non-Conference Play With Wins over Montana and Pacific Union

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The USF men’s basketball team picked up two exciting wins last week in games against the Grizzlies of University of Montana and the Pioneer’s of Pacific Union College. On Thursday, December 1st the Dons traveled to Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Montana where they overpowered the Grizzlies in the last thirty seconds to win 65 -62. On Sunday, December 4th the Dons returned to the Hilltop where they smashed Pacific Union 90-38.

Head coach Rex Walters praised his team after Thursday’s game saying, “This is a tough place to win. It’s a tough fight coming into here. There was lots of adversity. We had to fight for everything tonight. The guys where on edge and wanted to come here and get a win.”

Senior forward Rashad Green started to show signs of getting healthy again after an injury early in the season. He performed incredibly against the Grizzlies, nearly recording a double-double, with eighteen points and nine rebounds for the Dons.

Senior guard Angelo Caloiaro also had a standout performance, scoring fifteen points while snatching up six rebounds. His three-pointer right before the half time buzzer put the Dons up 34-28 and gave the Green and Gold a nice boost going into the intermission. Caloiaro also became the thirty-eighth player in USF basketball history to score more than nine hundred career points. He moved past Naismith Hall of Fame player KC Jones to take thirty-seventh place all time with nine hundred and thirteen points.

After leading for the entire game the Dons started to lose momentum with eight minutes left. The Grizzlies’ Mike Weisner hit a three pointer to make the score 50-48, giving the host team enormous momentum. The Dons seemed to have the game back under control, tying the score at 52 with a lay-up from Cole Dickerson. But the Grizzlies were not ready to give up, going on a 7-1 point run over the next three minutes.

Once again the Dons fought back, unwilling to let the late Grizzly run deter them from victory. Caloiaro won a defensive rebound with two minutes left and then hustled down court to score a lay-up that would even the game once again.

The Grizzlies’ sophomore guard Kareem Jamar responded, scoring a lay-up to put Montana back on top. With less than two minutes in the game, the Don’s guard Cody Doolin received a pass from Caloiaro and nailed a three to even the score at 62. In the final thirty seconds, Doolin would go on to make the go ahead lay-up, putting the Dons ahead 64-62. Cole Dickerson put the final nail in Montana’s coffin, scoring a free throw to close out the game.

The second game of the week pitted the Dons against the Pioneers of Pacific Union and was exciting for completely different reasons. The Dons pummeled the unworthy opponent from the California Pacific Conference (NAIA), with sixty points coming from off the bench. USF held the Pioneers to a .265 shooting percentage (13-49) and allowed only twelve points in the first half.

The Dons continued their dominance on the backboards recording a 51-18 rebound advantage. Cole Dickerson and Perris Blackwell both led the team with nine rebounds apiece.

Sophomore center Justin Raffington scored a career high fifteen points while also grabbing eight rebounds and blocking two shots. Chris Adams, a freshman guard out of Covina, CA, also achieved a career high milestone, coming off the bench to score fourteen points.

Head coach Rex Walters commended his team on their focus and said, “Yes its nice that we got the W but, more importantly, I felt like we got better today.”

The Dons next match is set for December 10, 2011 against the Tigers of University of the Pacific at 7 PM in War Memorial Gymnasium.

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