While most students were already at home preparing themselves for the Thanksgiving feast they were about to have, the USF men’s basketball team was hosting Montana State. The Dons entered the game Wednesday on a two-game losing streak, hoping to end that skid at home. Montana State, which plays in the Big Sky conference, came into the game with a 1-2 record looking to get to the .500 mark.
The game started off with both teams battling back in forth to get out to a quick lead. USF had the upper hand in the first 10 minutes of the first half jumping out to a lead that reached eight points. But Montana State continued to battle back. Montana State went on a 13-2 run, which included 10 straight points by the Bobcats. USF missed a few shots and Montana State was able to capitalize, hitting back to back three-pointers followed by a lay-up, a jumper and a three-point play. This gave the Bobcats a three-point lead but USF did a good job of not allowing the Bobcats to increase their lead.
Once Montana State obtained the lead both teams battled back and forth, trading baskets. USF cut the Montana State lead to one with one minute left before halftime but Montana State scored five quick points before the half ended. They entered the half with a six-point lead. Senior Dior Lowhorn led the Dons in scoring going into the half with eight points while sophomore Kwame Vaughn added seven points. Freshman Perris Blackwell also added six points and Angelo Caloiaro scored five points. The main difference between the two teams was points in the paint as Montana State controlled the paint outscoring the Dons 14-8, which explains their six-point halftime lead.
The start of the second half was no different than how the first half played out, the teams were trading baskets, not allowing someone to pull away. USF spent the first part of the second half trying to cut the Montana State lead. With ten minutes to play in the game, USF started a run to take a two-point lead. The Dons scored nine straight points using their defense to force turnovers, which led opportunities to score. USF was aggressive, getting to the free-throw line and hitting all five of their free-throw attempts. But Montana State would not let the Dons build on their lead as the fought to take it back.
The Bobcats took a 63-58 lead with five minutes left to play but once again USF was able to use the free-throw line and good defense to pull within one point. The teams traded baskets until the two minute mark when USF went up by one 66-65. Montana State then stepped up their defense and went on a run just as they had done before the end of the first half. And once again Montana State scored five straight points to end the half and the game, winning 70-66. Lowhorn led the Dons in scoring for the game, finishing with 19 points as well as nine rebounds. Caloiaro and Vaughn each finished with 12 points.
This weekend the Men’s basketball team began a Colorado road-trip by playing its first game against Colorado State on Sunday before playing the University of Colorado on December 1st. USF entered this game on a three game skid with hopes of getting back in the win column. But they did not get off to the kind of start that they would have hoped for, making only one of their first 10 shots and not hitting another field goal until around the 10-minute mark of the half. USF was able to stay in the game early on by converting on six free-throw attempts and by limiting the scoring of Colorado State. Although the Dons couldn’t score the ball early on they did an excellent job on defense, not allowing Colorado State to score much either.
The Dons offense finally woke up in the middle of the first half as they finished the rest of the half by shooting .500(6-12). The efficient shooting to end the half tied the game at 25-25 and was a good sign that USF had ended its shooting slump. Both teams went into the half evenly matched as evident by the score. Colorado State outscored USF 14-8 in the paint but the Dons outscored the Rams 10-6 on points off of turnovers and 11-9 in bench points.
The second half was not as sluggish as the first half as both teams were trading baskets. The lead was never more than six points as each team battled to pull away but neither team was able to. Senior Dior Lowhorn, who was held to four points in the first half, carried the Dons offensively along with Sophomore Rashad Green down the stretch; Green scored 12 points while Lowhorn scored 10 points in the second half. Lowhorn was perfect from the free-throw line in the half, which accounted for most of his points. The tandem combined for 22 points with the rest of the Dons combining for 12 points.
With 28 seconds left in the game USF took a two-point lead, 59-57 on a three-pointer by Sophomore Angelo Caloiaro. Colorado State then hit two free throws after a foul from Lowhorn. The game was tied 59-59 and neither team was able to get a basket to fall, forcing overtime.
The first overtime period was a continuation of the second half, meaning each team battled back and forth trading baskets with no one pulling away. Once again USF was up by two points with less than 40 seconds to play and Colorado State tied the game with free throws, sending the game into a second overtime.
The second overtime was dominated by Colorado State, as they went on a 16-2 run to end the game. USF had a season high-four players foul out, which hurt them especially because of the length of the game.
The fouls also hurt USF on the boards as they were out rebounded 46-39, with Pierce Hornung of Colorado State grabbing 17 rebounds. USF was whistled for 31 fouls as a team and Colorado State was called for 25 fouls. The number of fouls shows how physical the game was and that the refs had a quick whistle that night. Lowhorn and Green each finished with 21 points on the night, leading the Dons in scoring. The loss marked the fourth straight USF as they fall to 2-4 on the young season.