The University of San Francisco Dons (5 – 1) defeated the St. John’s Red Storm (6 – 3) team 81 – 65 in a tussle at War Memorial Gym. A sound interior defense by the Dons forced the athletic Red Storm to shoot from the perimeter, which backfired on SJU as they only made 3-of-11 from behind the 3-point line (27.3%). Meanwhile, the Dons shot 9-of-15 behind the 3-point line, led by De’End Parker shooting 3-of-3 from long range. Avry Holmes made 3-of-5 from 3-point territory, and Mark Tollefsen shot a perfect 2-of-2 from long distance.
The first half was closely contested, as the Red Storm used their quickness to pressure USF’s guards, while the Dons remained patient in finding the open shooter with crisp passing. SJU kept it close with a flurry at the end of the first half to trail 38 – 35, and looked poised to take the lead in the second half.
But that was not to be, as the Dons defense sagged off of certain SJU shooters, daring them to shoot from the perimeter. This defensive strategy–accompanied by Cody Doolin’s incessant penetration on offense–enabled the Dons to pull away in the second half.
Parker again led the Dons in scoring with 21 points, but it was USF point guard Doolin who was the difference-maker in this game. Doolin was able to dribble-drive at will against SJU’s man-to-man defense, as several defenders took their turn trying to stop his penetration. But the confident junior would not be denied, either finding open teammates, or finishing the drives himself. Doolin finished the game with 18 points, but more importantly, had 14 assists.
Tollefsen scored 11 points, including a show-stopping alley oop dunk off a feed from Doolin. Tollefsen and Doolin also shined on defense, swatting away two shots each.
Cole Dickerson and Tim Derksen shared the lead in rebounding with eight each, with Parker contributing five. Derksen also scored 10 points, in addition to being assigned to guard SJU’s leading scorer D’Angelo Harrison. Harrison did manage to score 14 points, but was frustrated all night by USF’s perimeter defense, as he could only make 5-of-16 shots from the field. Red Storm teammate JaKarr Thompson did step up with 22 points, but had little help in the scoring department. Amir Garrett corralled nine rebounds to go with his seven points, while Chris Obekpa had 3 blocked shots for the Red Storm.
On a night when the Dons commemorated past national championship teams from 1949, 1955, and 1956 at halftime, it was the present day Dons who played like champions.
USF’s next opponent is Fordham at Madison Square Garden on December 8. Tip off is 4 pm Pacific time.