The San Francisco Dons prevailed over Pacific 63-58 in the opening round of the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas on Friday. The Dons will advance to the next round of the tournament to meet Gonzaga. The top seeded Bulldogs will be playing their first game of the tournament. Pacific will return to Stockton. The Tigers will return 4 members of their starting line-up for the 2015-2016 season, so the future looks bright for them even as their season ends.Jan 18, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Dons forward Kruize Pinkins (15) takes a shot against the San Diego Toreros during the second half at War Memorial Gymnasium. The San Francisco Dons defeated the San Diego Toreros 64-62. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Kruize Pinkins and Tim Derksen finished with 14 points apiece for the Dons. Devin Watson finished with 13 points, Matt Glover had 10 rebounds and Matt Christiansen had 3 key blocks. Partially injured T.J. Wallace played and accumulated 14 points as the leading scorer for Pacific before fouling out with 3 seconds remaining in the game.
Pacific took command of the game in the first half leading USF most of the way with especially effective 3 point shooting from David Taylor and Dulani Robinson. The Dons focused their defensive efforts on quieting the normally prolific scoring of TJ Wallace but in the process left Taylor open which resulted in 3 devastating three point shots. At the 7:00 minute mark, Chris Adams finally connected on his three point shot and the Dons took a 1 point lead over Pacific 17-16.
The momentum for the Dons continued even with wholesale substitutions of Pacific line-ups reminiscent of a hockey game rather than a tournament basketball game. The first half ended with the score tied 28-28 as the last possession of the half went wrong when Devin Watson slipped and fell in front of the scorer’s table.
The strategy for USF in the second half was to give Kruize Pinkins more touches and shooting opportunities, a strategy that paid off handsomely for the Dons. Once the broken buzzer that was blaring continuously was fixed at the 15:57 mark, the Dons returned to the floor and pulled ahead of Pacific by 5 points with a Mark Tollefsen basket. Wallace hit a beautiful 3 point shot even with his injured shoulder. Devin Watson found himself on the free throw line several times throughout the second half giving the Dons 4 added points in the process. The Dons were hitting the mark with their shots in the second half, defeating the full court trap Pacific set into motion with 4 minutes remaining in the game to try and close the scoring gap. Pacific came close several times coming within 2 points of the Dons, but USF held on to win and advance.
In addition to TJ Wallace’s 14 point performance, fellow teammate David Taylor finished with 13 points. Dulani Robinson with 9 points. Eric Thompson was the leading rebounder for the Tigers and the first Pacific player to foul out.
During the post-game “presser” Rex Walters commented that he is excited and feels confident going into the Saturday game against Gonzaga because USF was right there with Gonzaga in their last meeting in San Francisco. As BYU demonstrated last weekend, Gonzaga isn’t invincible. Rex and his team are ready to go against Gonzaga. Tim Derksen remarked that the mindset of the Dons against Pacific was “get a stop or go home.” You can bet that will be their mindset Saturday night in Las Vegas.