The Dons continued their three-game road trip on Saturday, Feb. 8, visiting the Brigham Young Cougars. BYU was the West Coast Conference coming into the game with a per-game average of 86.7, but USF limited the Cougars to only 68. Unfortunately, the Dons only put up 63 points themselves.
The Dons ended their 13-game losing streak against San Diego on Thursday night with a 78-74 victory over the Toreros in War Memorial Gym. USF was outrebounded by the Toreros 49-30, but managed to hang on for the win thanks to a career-high 28 points from sophomore guard Zhané Dikes.
What began as a close game between USF and the Gonzaga Bulldogs became a crushing 101-66 defeat for the Dons on Saturday, Feb. 1 at the McCarthey Center in Spokane, Wash. The Dons scored just below their season average of 68.6 points, but were unable to stop No. 22 Gonzaga’s overpowering offense from lighting up the scoreboard.
Despite the lopsided score at the end of the game, San Francisco (8-14, 3-8 West Coast Conference) tested Gonzaga (20-3, 10-1 WCC) throughout the first half. Gonzaga scored the first basket of the contest, but senior guard Alexa Hardick quickly responded with a three-pointer, putting the Dons on top early. Hardick was one of four Dons to score in double digits, notching 11 points in only her second career start.
Junior guard Taj Winston, who scored 10 points, began a 9-0 run for the Dons with a layup of her own. This gave San Francisco its first lead of the game at 31-29 with 7:55 left in the first half. The Dons lead 46-42 with just 2:25 left in the half, but Gonzaga fought back to regain the lead before time was called. The Bulldogs were on top 50-46 when both teams headed to the locker rooms.
Gonzaga began the second half with seven straight unanswered points. They then continued to pull away from the Dons, who struggled with turnovers, committing 23 as a team. Turnovers have been a lingering issue this season for the Dons, who have averaged 15.8 per game as of Feb. 1.
Overall, USF was outscored 51-20 in the second half, turning a potential upset bid into a blowout. Sophomore guard Zhane Dikes was the top point scorer for the Dons, putting up 14 points to go with 5 assists.
San Francisco had better luck in its game on Thursday, Jan. 30, defeating the Portland Pilots 74-73. The Dons were led by Hardick, who had a spectacular game in her first career start, scoring a team and career-high 21 points. Redshirt junior forward Paige Spietz also earned herself a career-high, adding 13 points.
USF had a rough start to the game, starting 0-10 from the field and digging themselves into a seemingly insurmountable 19-0 hole. However, the Dons kept their composure and slowly gained ground on the Portland Pilots. They cut the lead to 13 at halftime, and still trailed 57-42 with 13:20 left in the game, but a 17-0 run gave the Dons their first lead of the night at 59-57.
In the last five minutes of the game there were multiple lead changes, with no team leading by more than three points. With just 3.2 seconds left, Portland’s Amy Pupa scored off of an offensive rebound to put the Pilots up by a bucket, 73-71. Then, in the game’s most crucial moment, sophomore forward Taylor Proctor responded with a three-point play, scoring a basket and hitting the go-ahead free throw with 0.7 seconds left to win the game.
“We were trying to draw [Alexa Hardick] out and pretend that she was shooting the three,” Proctor told usfdons.com. “We had three seconds so that was enough time to settle down, look for a lane and draw the foul, and that’s what we did.”
San Francisco will now return home from their four game road trip that included three unfortunate losses and one inspirational win. In their next game, the Dons are faced with the challenge of avenging a 76-58 loss against the University of San Diego Toreros on Thursday, Feb. 6 at War Memorial Gym.
Crippled by a large number of turnovers, the Dons dropped their sixth straight West Coast Conference game to the San Diego Toreros in a 76-58 loss this Saturday. Five USF players turned the ball over three or more times, leading to 27 total turnovers and 21 points for the opposition.
Redshirt junior forward Paige Spietz opened the game with two free throws, kicking off an 8-0 run to start the game for the Dons (7-13, 2-7 WCC). However, USF’s lead would get no larger than eight. The Toreros missed their first eight shot attempts but went on a 13-3 run after hitting their first basket, a three-pointer. After the run, San Diego and San Francisco traded baskets until the seventh minute of the first half, when San Diego hit another three-pointer to put them two baskets ahead.
Still, the Dons were able to keep pace with San Diego for most of the first half, and found themselves down by just two points with two minutes left in the half thanks to trips to the free-throw line by freshman guard Rachel Howard and sophomore guard Zhané Dikes. After that, a six-point run by the Toreros solidified their lead, and they finished the half up 35-27.
The Dons kept the game close in the start of the second half with Spietz again scoring the first points. With 16:34 left in the second half, a layup by junior guard Taj Winston cut San Diego’s lead to just three. San Diego’s offense then took control of the game, scoring 11 of the next 14 points, and putting San Francisco in a position that they could not recover from. Dikes and Howard led the Dons in scoring, tallying 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Two days earlier, USF was dealt a demoralizing 81-47 loss to the Brigham Young Cougars at the Marriott Center. The Dons were outmatched from the opening tip, falling behind 11-0 to start, and trailing 34-15 by halftime. Dikes led the team with 13 points, and was the only Don to reach double figures.
San Francisco hopes for a better outcome on Thursday, Jan. 30 when they face the 12-8 Portland Pilots in Oregon at 7:00 p.m.
Many basketball players are unable to find their way onto an NBA team after completing college, but for those who wish to continue pursuing their dream, forging a career in Europe is an attractive alternative. Former USF Don Angelo Caloiaro recently enjoyed a standout season playing for Mittledeutscher Basketball Club (BC), a team in the Beko BBL (Basketball Bundesliga), a professional basketball league in Germany. Caloiaro, who played for San Francisco from 2008-2012, was selected to participate in the Beko BBL All-Star Game, which took place Jan. 18 this year. The 6-8 forward’s All-Star nod was the culmination of his blazing start to the 2013-14 season, where he has averaged 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds through the first 18 games.
In the All-Star Game, Caloiaro totaled four points, eight rebounds, and three assists to help Team International top Team National 121-116. He was named to the squad as a replacement for FC Bayern’s Nihad Djedovic, who sustained an ankle injury that would keep him out of the event. Ranking eighth in the Beko BBL in scoring, and shooting an impressive 52.8 percent from the field, Caloiaro arguably should have made Team International in the first place, rather than being chosen to fill in for an injured player. In the end, however, he was awarded the honor of competing amongst the best players in the league in just his second year of playing professional basketball.
“Any all-star event is something to be proud of and I am even more blessed to be participating with such a talented group,” Caloiaro told Lefteris Moutis of eurohoops.net.
At USF, Caloiaro went from a key role player as a freshman to a member of the All-WCC First Team in his senior year. The San Jose, Calif. native earned All-WCC honors after putting up 14.2 points and 6.0 rebounds during the 2011-2012 season, and completed his collegiate career ranked third all-time at USF in three-pointers made, and 19th in points scored. As a senior, he helped lead the Dons to a 20-14 record and an appearance in the College Basketball Invitational.
After graduating, Caloiaro spent a season playing for Rilski Sportist, a team in the Bulgarian National Basketball league, before signing with Mittledeutscher BC in the summer of 2013. While he has undoubtedly created a niche for himself in the world of European basketball, there are still challenges that lie ahead. Mittledeutscher BC currently has a record of 8-10, and Caloiaro will need to step up and cement himself as the leader of the team if they hope to qualify as one of eight teams that make the league playoffs.
Still just 24 years of age, Caloiaro’s youth and skill may also give him the opportunity to eventually sign with a more well-known European team. However, for now he is focused on the present.
“I try to stay concentrated during the season and devote all my attention to the team I am on,” Caloiaro told Moutis.
From San Francisco to Germany, it’s safe to say that the Beko BBL All-Star has been quite successful in doing just that.
On Tuesday, Nov. 26, Dons senior point guard Cody Doolin announced that he will leave the team for the rest of the season due to personal reasons.
The Austin, Tex. native is reported to have gotten in a physical fight with a teammate, leading to his departure from the team. Doolin is one of many players to leave the USF basketball program in recent years, though he is the only to do so mid-season.
Throughout his collegiate career, Doolin was perhaps the Dons most reliable player, starting all 103 games that he played in. During his junior year, he emerged as one of the premiere guards in the West Coast Conference, averaging 12.2 points and 5.6 assists per game.
Doolin put up 13.0 points and 7.0 assists per game in four games this season, torching Nevada for a career-high 33 points on Nov. 15. He was set to play a central role for a USF team that many thought of as a threat to compete for the WCC Championship.
“I want nothing but the best for him and truly appreciate the time, energy and passion he had in his time here,” Head Coach Rex Walters told USFDons.com. “We will miss him and he will always be a USF Don.”
Now forced to adjust to life without their point guard, the Dons have gone 3-2 since Doolin’s departure. Sophomore guard Tim Derksen replaced Doolin in the starting lineup and has responded well so far, scoring 18 points in a loss to Illinois State.