WAR MEMORIAL GYM — A couple of days after shocking Saint Mary’s, the University of San Francisco took care of Loyola Marymount, 72-63, winning for the fourth time in five games on Saturday.
On an afternoon when Frankie Ferrari starred again, a 7-foot sophomore continued his rise and the Dons pushed to .500 (8-8) in West Coast Conference play, here’s what you need to know…
It wasn’t pretty, but the Dons handled their business. The Dons (16-13) never truly shook LMU — the guests were within five points, 68-63, with 40.6 seconds to go — but USF did enough to avoid a letdown after the thrilling upset of the Gaels on Thursday night.
Early on, the Dons lived by the 3-pointer. Ferrari, Chase Foster and Jordan Ratinho combined to go 5-for-7 on triples in the first half. That sharp shooting carried the hosts to a 29-25 advantage at the break. Foster, who has re-established his spot in the starting lineup in the wake of a sprained ankle, knocked down his first three long-range efforts, ending the matinee with 13 points in 31 minutes.
Down the stretch, LMU pulled level on multiple occasions and were within two point as late as the 7:48 mark, but the Dons never lost the lead.
Ferrari is rolling and so are the Dons. As Ferrari goes, so go the Dons. Following the win over the Lions, USF is in the midst of a 4-1 run, the lone loss coming in overtime fashion following a late collapse to BYU last Saturday.
During that stretch, Ferrari, a redshirt junior, is averaging 17 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists while shooting 59.1 percent from the field and 62.5 percent from beyond the arc.
“You hit it on the head,” head coach said when asked about the dual rise of the Dons and the point guard.
“He’s been terrific,” Smith added. “He knows how to handle success. After a big win, that was really emotional [game] — a lot of accolades — he’s always been fighting that a little bit because it’s hard being the local guy.”
Ferrari, in his second stint on the Hilltop, originally made his name at Burlingame High School.
“He’s really helped our name recognition with the program being a local guy,” Smith said. “Everyone knows him. Now he’s doing well. And I think it’s just something to build on.”
Jimbo Lull is on the rise. Lull, the Dons 7-foot sophomore, continues to cement his spot in the rotation, serving as the top big off the bench.
“I think that’s another reason [for the recent success],” Smith said. “He turned the corner.”
Smith said that for Lull the emergence has been due largely to an improved mindset on the floor and increased confidence.
“He doesn’t get down on himself anymore,” Smith said.
After recording 10 points and seven rebounds in the Saint Mary’s upset, Lull dropped 10 points and four rebounds against the Lions. He also delivered an empathic block on the final defensive possession, putting an exclamation point on the win.
“I think you hit the nail on the head,” Smith said, speaking of Lull and Ferrari. “Those two guys have come on and that’s helped us a lot.”
Nate Renfro soars again. For the second time in as many games, Renfro, the Dons’ ultra-athletic 6-foot-7 forward, recorded three blocks.