The University of San Francisco Dons open their post-season with a match up against the Loyola Marymount University Lions in the second round of the West Coast Conference tourney. Ninth-seeded LMU (9-22, 1-15 WCC) earned a berth against the Dons (14-15, 7-9 WCC) by defeating the Portland Pilots 65 – 54 last night in first round play at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV.
The fifth-seeded Dons swept the regular season series against LMU, winning 62 – 53 on January 19 at home, and 61 – 59 on February 21 on the road. USF enters the tourney with a 3-game winning streak, with victories over LMU, Pepperdine, and University of San Diego.
The Dons are led by Cole Dickerson (14.9 points per game), Cody Doolin (12.6 ppg), and De’End Parker (11.9 ppg). Dickerson averages 9.4 rebounds per game to lead the Dons, followed by Tim Derksen with 3.8 rpg. Doolin dishes out 5.6 assists per game to lead USF.
USF shoots 45.4 percent from the field, 40.2 percent behind the 3-point line, and 67.7 percent from the free throw line.
The Lions are led by the dynamic duo of Anthony Ireland (20.6 ppg) and Ashley Hamilton (12.9 ppg). Hamilton rebounds at a clip of 6.9 rpg, followed by Alex Osborn (4.6 rpg), and Ireland (4.4 rpg). Chase Flint and Ireland lead the Lions with 3.7 apg.
LMU shoots 40.3 percent from the field, 33.6 percent behind the 3-point line, and 71.0 percent from the free throw line.
The key for the Dons’ success is to limit Ireland’s touches on the perimeter, and to box out Hamilton on the boards. On defense, the Lions send all five players for rebounding purposes, so the outcome may hinge on Dickerson’s ability to grab offensive rebounds for putbacks in the paint.
The Lions have quick perimeter players, but after playing on consecutive nights, their legs may wilt under defensive pressure applied by the Dons. After a missed shot, USF will push the tempo to create easy transition baskets where Dickerson, Parker, and Mark Tollefsen are effective finishers. Doolin will be counted on to provide dribble penetration in the halfcourt offense, as he can finish or dish to Parker, Avry Holmes, or Chris Adams on the perimeter. Dickerson also makes a living in the paint and on mid-range jumpers.
Redshirt freshman Tollefsen is also providing surprising scoring punch lately, in addition to crashing the boards, and blocking shots.
Tip off is 6 pm Pacific time.