Frankie Ferrari took over the game late, Jordan Ratinho dropped 20 points and the University of San Francisco earned a spot in the West Coast Conference tournament semifinals, edging Pacific, 71-70, in overtime on Saturday at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
On an afternoon when the backcourt balled out and the Dons began the postseason on a high note, here’s what you need to know…
Ferrari just did what he does. Just over a week after putting up 15 points and 13 assists in the road win over Pacific, Ferrari once again took it to the Tigers. The First Team WCC selection had 17 points and eight of the team’s 14 assists. Ferrari also grabbed four rebounds and accounted for a pair of steals.
Most crucially, the redshirt junior point guard turned it on when clock was running low.
Amid a tense, back-and-forth affair, Ferrari cooly sank a pair of critical buckets in the final 76 seconds that almost carried the Dons to a win in regulation. Ferrari drilled a 3-pointer with 1:16 on the clock, then knocked down a midrange fadeaway with 6.1 seconds, which would have iced the win if not for buzzer-beating heroics from Pacific’s Anthony Townes who grabbed a rebound and made a layup as the clock expired.
Ratinho delivered his best performance when the Dons needed it most. On a day when it was win or go home, the De La Salle product was at his peak, tied for the game high with 20 points. While the Dons were cold from distance early (3-for-12 in the first half), Ratinho was on point throughout the contest. The guard opened the overtime possession with his fifth and final 3-pointer (5-for-10).
Speaking of 3-pointers, the Dons got a couple big ones from an unlikely source. Nate Renfro entered the matchup with the Tigers sporting an unsightly 22.9 3-point percentage. As such, Pacific sagged off Renfro whenever he got the ball out on the perimeter. The junior forward made the Tigers pay, making his first two 3-point attempts.
Renfro ended up shooting 3-for-4 from the field and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc, flooding the box score in the process. Renfro just missed a double double (8 points and a team-high 9 rebounds), while dishing four assists.
The Dons clamped down on the Tiger who cooked them last time out. Back on Feb. 23, when USF bested Pacific, 84-74, the Dons had no answer for Roberto Gallinat. The junior guard scored 41 points in 40 minutes. At the Orleans Arena, Gallinat was a ghost, missing his first seven shots. Gallinat finally scored with 5:58 to go, connecting on a 3-pointer. That would be the lone bucket for the Pacific star.
The rotation shrank and Jimbo Lull once again made his mark off the bench. Head coach Kyle Smith only summoned three Dons in reserve — Lull, Souley Boum and Remu Raitanen. As has been the trend in recent weeks, Lull was a game-changer off the bench.
Lull helped neutralize his 7-foot counterpart — Namdi Okonkwo (4 points and 3 rebounds) — while tallying 6 points, 7 rebounds and a block.
The Dons will be back on the court in Las Vegas on Monday night. The narrow win gives USF the right to face Gonzaga, one of the resident goliaths of the conference.