San Francisco escapes with overtime win over Yale

Dons squander 16-point lead, but manage to stay undefeated with and-one from Minlend

WAR MEMORIAL GYM — A Jamaree Bouyea double-double, 17 points off the bench from Khalil Shabazz and a clutch and-1 from Charles Minlend lifted the San Francisco Dons to 3-0 in the Todd Golden era, beating Yale 84-79 in overtime on Monday after they squandered a 16-point lead.

“There were opportunities to end the game and we let them get some air,” Golden said. “Yale’s a very good team. Even though it went to overtime, I was pretty pleased with the win.”

Playing their second Ivy League opponent in three days, the Dons seemed to be in control with an early 29-13 lead, but Yale closed the gap to six by the break and briefly led in a back-and-forth second half, tying the game to force the extra period on a Matthue Cotton 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left.

Minlend split a pair of free throws with 15.5 left and Taavi Jurkatamm, USF’s best defender, blocked a Jordan Bruner attempt, but the Bulldog senior managed to grab the blocked shot and feed Cotton on the wig to tie it back up.

“I went back and forth about calling a timeout, but Charles made his first free throw, so I wanted to let him stay in rhythm,” Golden said. “Hindsight being 20/20, I would have loved to call one there (to instruct the team to foul).”

Yale (2-1) never led in overtime, but got four straight points from Paul Atkinson, who scored a game-high 22, to tie the game at 79 with 2:32 left. Jalen Gabbidon rebounded a missed Minlend three to give the Bulldogs a chance to go on top, but Minlend recovered to poke it out from midcourt, then laid it in amidst heavy contact from Atkinson.

Minlend would make the free throw as well for a three-point lead.

Jurkatamm then continued his excellent defense, forcing a missed three from Azar Swain, but Jordan Ratinho couldn’t finish off the glass, capping off his offensive struggles on a night where he was held to two points. Ratinho left his feet on defense, along with Remu Raitanen, as Bruner had an open three with a chance to tie with 10 seconds left, but it missed, allowing Shabazz to collect the rebound and hit both free throws to seal the win.

“When he comes in, he changes the game,” Golden said of Shabazz, who was plus-14 on the night, second only to Raitanen’s plus-18. “We knew he was gonna be a great asset in the backcourt, and he hasn’t disappointed.”

The Seattle native put the Dons up 53-50 with 11:28 left in the game on an electrifying four-point play, less than a minute after he had given his team a 49-48 lead on a three when Raitanen had rebounded his initial miss.

“It’s definitely a different pace at the Division I level,” the Central Washington transfer said. “Just sitting out and really getting a chance to look at the game last year, it’s allowed me to slow it down.”

Shabazz scored 12 in the second half also had three assists on the night, displaying tremendous chemistry with Bouyea when both were on the court. A Cotton three put the Bulldogs up 42-39 before a Bouyea triple, followed by a Shabazz steal and pass for a two-handed Bouyea jam. Bouyea led the Dons with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Both he and Shabazz notched double-doubles, with the latter pulling down 10 boards.

“We like to spread the love,” Bouyea said. “We can’t all be the star. With him in the backcourt, it helps me out guarding guys and making plays.”

Minlend matched Shabazz with 17 points while Raitanen added nine. Cotton had 16 off the bench for Yale despite scoring just one in the first half, Bruner added 12 and Eric Monroe had 10, including eight in the first half.

San Francisco travels to Carbondale, Ill. for a game against Southern Illinois on Saturday before returning home next Tuesday for a tilt with Cal State Bakersfield.

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