The USF Dons beat the LMU Lions 75-66 on Saturday at War Memorial Gym for the home finale of seniors Blake Wallace, Dontae Bryant, and Dior Lowhorn. The crowd gave a standing ovation to the three graduating seniors in their introductions and at the end of the game. With the win the Dons earned their 11th of the season, improving their record to 11-15 and 6-5 in the West Coast Conference, which puts them into fourth place in the league.
After the ceremony celebrating the Seniors, USF started hot from the floor jumping to a quick 8-2 lead. But quickly after that LMU went on a run of their own and they took a 17-11 advantage around the midpoint of the first half. Junior Vernon Teel scored eight points on the Lions 15-3 run. Even though the Dons fell behind early against the Lions, they managed to catch back up, leading into the half 34-29. The bench play was key for the Dons in the first half as they outscored LMU’s bench 7-0. USF also shot well in the first half as they made 45% of their shots as they went 10-22 from the field. In addition to shooting well from the field, the Dons had a major advantage at the line as they shot 12 free throws, making 10 as opposed to the six taken and four made free throws for the Lions. But a weakness for the Dons was their turnovers as they allowed nine points off of eight turnovers.
The 2nd half continued in the same manner, with USF making the first few shots while the Dons held onto their lead. LMU would not leave without a fight and they battled their way back tying the game at the eight-minute mark. But USF pulled away and added a little padding to make the game at its widest separation an 11-point lead over the Lions with 4:57 left in the second half. From that point on USF was able to protect their lead, as they never trailed for the remainder of the game.
LMU had a hard time breaking the man coverage and zones of the USF defense. The LMU offense was persistent at trying to pass around the perimeter and driving inside to open a lane in the Dons zone. However, the Dons managed to create turnovers, either rebounds or steals. The USF defense played well in the game, especially at the end of the game. Unlike other times during the contest, USF was able to preserve the lead. USF played a well-rounded game as they were able to score enough on offense to take the lead and their defense didn’t allow much room for LMU to score.
The game picked up speed in the final minute when LMU needed to score several times to tie. LMU pushed a full court press. However, the Dons managed to pass and dribble around the defense and without intentionally fouling, the game came to a calm ending in the Dons possession. The Dons high scorer was Dior Lowhorn with 26 points, seven rebounds, and two steals. Senior Dontae Bryant scored seven points while racking up four rebounds and four assists. Senior Blake Wallace dropped in nine points to go along with six rebounds. Up next for the Dons is a critical road trip in which they play conference foes Santa Clara, Portland and Gonzaga. Sitting two games back of both Portland and St.Mary’s the Dons may be able to climb up the WCC standings if they can win out and hope that both teams lose their remaining games.