It was another double-double evening for Brad Waldow who racked up 21 points and 10 rebounds. Together with the outstanding play of Desmond Simmons who sunk trey’s galore, the Saint Mary’s Gaels overpowered the San Francisco Dons 69-56 on Monday night in Moraga.
Our West Coast Convo game preview projected that this would be a close, hotly contested game and during the first half, that was true. USF kept pace with Saint Mary’s until the Gaels pulled slightly ahead by 5 points at half (29-24). The Dons had trouble handling the ball and even more trouble finding a way to contain Brad Waldow. That will be the story of the season as each WCC team attempts to contain this very strong, talented Saint Mary’s forward.
March 10, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; San Francisco Dons guard/forward Tim Derksen (32) dribbles against the Brigham Young Cougars during the first half in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference tournament at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
USF wisely brought in fresh troops periodically to cover Waldow with a double and triple team. The scoring differential grew much wider in the second half and even with the Dons shooting 75% from the free throw line, it wasn’t enough to overtake the Gaels. Tim Derksen emerged as USF’s leading scorer with 16 points. Matt Glover finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds. Mark Tollefsen had 9 points and led the team in rebounding with 5. Devin Watson had 8 points, 5 rebounds and 7 key assists. This freshman is quite a valuable player for the Dons. Kruize Pinkins was held by the Gaels defense to 4 points and 4 rebounds for the entire game, a single, single if you will and definitely not Pinkins normal routine. Not at all. In fact the same could be said for USF’s game tonight. In addition to defending USF aggressively, the Gaels were especially effective in thwarting USF’s offensive rhythm.
Aside from Brad Waldow’s dominant play, the second most valuable player for Saint Mary’s this evening was Desmond Simmons who was brutal from the 3 point line, scoring 13 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. Garrett Jackson and Emmett Naar contributed 10 points each, rebounding 4 and 3 each.
By the end of the game, USF Coach Rex Walters could not contain himself any longer and got into a verbal confrontation with one of the SMC assistant coaches after the last shot by Saint Mary’s. This shot consisted of untoward possibly overly aggressive contact by USF at the buzzer. Coach Walters lost his mind and later characterized the incident as contesting the shot, yes, even the very last shot of the game. Randy Bennett was concerned about possible injury to the player in contesting that very last shot. Usually teams just chill out the last few second of a game where there is a clear wnner, in this case Saint Mary’s.
The officials, Tommy Nunez, Deldre Carr and Glen Mayberry together with members of both teams quickly isolated Coach Walters and separated the two factions. No end of the game handshakes or jolly laughter between SMC Coach Randy Bennett and Walters as is the normal custom. Both teams were shuttled from the court to their respective separate exits to their designated locker rooms.
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Emotions at this rivalry game always run high (though Coach Walters in his post game comments indicated that “they haven’t earned the right to call this a rivalry”) and though USF has only won the game between the two schools once in 19 tries, they bring all of “it” from the Hilltop to Moraga. It can never be said that USF goes down without a fight. Fortunately the possibility of a post-game fight beginning with verbal judo was averted by the vigilance, quick thinking and action of the officials.
The Dons record drops to 7-7 and 1-1 in WCC play while Saint Mary’s improves their record to 9-3 and remains a perfect 2-0 in conference play. Both teams will play on New Year’s Day. San Francisco will take on San Diego while Saint Mary’s will play Pepperdine.
Brad Waldow 21 points 10 rebounds
Desmond Simmons 13 points 9 rebounds
Emmett Naar 10 points 4 assists
Garrett Jackson 10 points 4 rebounds
Tim Derksen 16 points 2 rebounds
Matt Glover 10 points 4 rebounds
Mark Tollefsen 9 points 5 rebounds
Devin Watson 8 points 5 rebounds