In what was planned as Firefighters Appreciation Night, fans were treated to a fireworks show not seen often on the court at War Memorial Gym. USF junior wing De’End Parker exploded for a career-high 31 points against an overmatched Columbia Lions club, with the Dons winning 79 -59 in the final Hilltop Challenge game.
The Lions started the game by successfully taking the air out of the ball, using a deliberate passing game and knocking down 3-point shots to build an early five point lead. However, USF’s athleticism would eventually take over, as Chris Adams, Avry Holmes, Cody Doolin, and Mark Tollefsen made 3-points to help USF build a 40 – 27 half time lead.
But it was De-End Parker who caused the majority of the damage, hitting 3-point perimeter shots, pull-up mid-range jumpers, and running floaters in the lane. In fact, it appeared Parker could do whatever he wanted to do on the court, despite increased focus by whichever defender the Lions threw at him. Columbia applied defensive pressure against USF’s point guards, but once Parker received the ball, it was a foregone conclusion what would happen next: he would either get fouled, made a basket–or both.
Point guard Cody Doolin had his normally steady game, scoring 13 points and dishing out four assists, while forward Cole Dickerson had a monster game on the boards, nabbing 14 rebounds to go along with 10 points for his third double-double of the young season. Dickerson also cupped the ball on his way to throwing down a thunderous tomahawk dunk in the second half, to the roaring applause of Dons fans.
Columbia fans deserve props for showing up and supporting the visiting Lions. Hometown hero Brian Barbour from nearby Monte Vista High in Danville, CA had a poor shooting night for the Lions, knocking down only 2 of 10 shots, but dished out 6 assists and had a solid overall game controlling the tempo. As the Lions’ leading scorer, he had the misfortune of receiving extra attention by USF defenders, which included Parker face-guarding him every time he had possession.
Grant Mullins picked up the scoring slack for the Lions by shooting 4-5 behind the 3-point line for a total or 14 points.
But it was De’End Parker who burned the house down.