The USF Dons came from eight points down to lead at halftime but had to battle back after the Santa Clara Broncos erased an eight-point deficit of their own in the second half to get a 69-63 win at the Leavey Center Saturday night.
Kruize Pinkins had a career-high 26 points for the Dons (16-10, 9-5 West Coast Conference), including a dunk plus the and-one with 21 seconds remaining to seal the win. For the Broncos (11-16, 4-10), it was their eighth loss in their last nine games.
The Broncos took a 32-24 lead late in the first half on a basket by Brandon Clark with 3:46 to go, but the Dons answered with an 11-1 run, capped by Pinkins’ bucket with 44 seconds left in the half and led 35-33 at the break.
USF then scored the first six points of the second half, holding Santa Clara scoreless for the first 5:40 after intermission.
The Broncos scored eight straight points to tie things back up at 41-41 with 13:23 remaining on a 3-pointer by Evan Roquemore.
The Dons got the lead back up to six at 58-52 on a 3-pointer by Tim Derksen with 6:24 left, but three straight buckets by the Broncos—two by Roquemore—tied things at 58-58 with 4:33 remaining.
Derksen converted a pair of free throws and Pinkins made a pair as well, then tipped in a Cole Dickerson miss with 2:30 to go that put USF up 64-58. With 30 seconds remaining, Roquemore made the second of two free throws to make it a one-possession game, 64-61, but Pinkins rocked the rim with a dunk and was fouled by Andrew Papenfus, completing the three-point play to secure the win.
Pinkins was 8-for-11 from the floor and 10-for-11 from the line for the Dons. Dickerson added 13 points and 14 rebounds and Mark Tollefsen also scored 13 points.
The Dons return home to host Saint Mary’s on Thursday night at 7 p.m. Pacific, while the Broncos will also be at home Thursday night, playing host to Pacific at 7 p.m.