WAR MEMORIAL GYM — On Thursday night, University of San Francisco point guard Frankie Ferrari played one of his worst games of the 2019-19 season, shooting a season-low 25 percent from the floor and scoring just seven points.
According to Dons head coach Kyle Smith, illness played a large role in Ferrari’s off-kilter performance as the Burlingame native was experiencing flu-like symptoms before the game and into Friday.
“We didn’t make a big deal about it, but he was sick,” Smith said. “He didn’t practice yesterday. We told him to stay in bed yesterday but he wanted to come up.”
After spending the last 24 hours recovering and hydrating, Ferrari bounced back from the his poor outing against the Pacific Tigers by scoring 21 points and dishing out seven assists on Saturday night to lead USF to an 82-63 win over the visiting Brigham Young University Cougars at War Memorial Gym.
“We’re going to ride or die with this guy and he’s earned that,” Smith said. “Him making shots tonight and leading our was terrific.”
Taking on BYU for the first time this season, much of the Dons’ game plan focussed on stopping Cougars leading scorer Yoeli Childs, who entered the game scoring 22.2 points per game and shooting 55 percent from the field.
USF threw multiple defenders at the 6-foot-8 junior forward whenever he touched the ball inside of the key.
Defending Childs were center Jimbo Lull, forward Matt McCarthy and senior co-captain Nate Renfro. The three saw 15, 15 and 11 minutes of first-half court time respectively.
The trio of would hold Childs to just 2-of-11 shooting from the floor, turning the wide-bodied big man into a volume shooter.
“I thought we did a good job in the first half around the basket [on Childs],” Smith said. “He hit two threes but he was 0-for-6 from 2 … We were in control there for most of the game.”
While BYU had trouble shooting in the first half, mostly due to Child’s struggles, the Dons responded by scoring 14 of their 19 inside of the key.
Many of the layups and dunks scored by USF came off of assists from Ferrari, who had six dishes in the first 20 minutes of play.
“That’s always my priority is to feed my other guys first,” Ferrari said. “It’s always my priority to get everyone else going.”
Only scoring three points in the first half, Ferrari’s offensive game really began to open up in the second as BYU gained their footing, even closing the Don’s 14-point halftime lead to single digits.
Hitting three triples and scoring 18 points in the second half, Ferrari helped USF hold a double-digit lead over the Cougars through the rest of the game as he finished the game shooting 8-for-11 from the floor.
“Tonight I knocked down some shots,” Ferrari said. “ I hadn’t been shooting the three very well this year and I’m happy that I was able to go 4-for-6.”
Thanks to Ferrari’s bounce-back effort, the Dons (16-3, 4-1 in WCC) were able to coast to a 19-point win, ending an 11-game losing streak against the Cougars (12-9, 4-2).
“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t mean something,” Smith said. “[BYU head coach] Dave Rose has been to eight NCAA tournaments … We think USF deserves to be in that conversation but we have to earn it. It’s nice to get there but we have to do it consistently and compete.”
As for Ferrari, who Smith had to force to stay home from practice on Thursday, the third-year USF head coach had high praise.
“He’s a big part of what we do,” Smith said. “He’s earned the respect from his teammates and his coaches.”