USF rallies from down 12 to outlast Pepperdine as Ratinho scores career-high 29

WAR MEMORIAL GYM — A career-high 29 points from Jordan Ratinho and a huge second half from Jamaree Bouyea helped the San Francisco Dons avoid what would have been a devastating home loss, as they beat the Pepperdine Waves, 89-77.

“We could have folded, but our guys kept competing,” head coach Kyle Smith said.

With the Waves missing their second- and fifth-highest scorers, Kameron Edwards and Oakland native Jade’ Smith, the Dons had a clear advantage in depth, but with the Waves shooting the lights out in the early going, and forcing 10 first-half turnovers, it looked like San Francisco’s case for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid was about to take another blow.

Pepperdine (12-14, 5-7 WCC) scored the final 12 points of the first half to take a 44-36 lead at the break, then extended that lead to 53-41 four minutes into the second half on threes by Kessler Edwards, Kameron’s freshman brother, and Darnell Dunn.

Even after the Dons got within four on a 7-0 run, the Waves would go back up by 10, stretching the lead to 65-55 with a pair of Eric Cooper Jr. threes sandwiched around a basket in the lane by San Francisco center Jimbo Lull. Up to that point, Pepperdine was getting the key baskets and big stops at critical junctures to control the game and prevent any major run by the Dons.

San Francisco (19-6, 7-4) finally snapped that rhythm with Ratinho’s sixth 3-pointer of the night. He had kept USF afloat by scoring 17 in the first half, shooting a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor and making all five of his 3-pointers while Pepperdine fronted and doubled the post, and it was Ratinho’s resurgence in the second half that sparked the decisive run.

“My shot just happened to feel good tonight,” Ratinho said. “I was taking the looks I normally take, and they were just going in.”

Those points came despite being tasked with guarding Ross, Pepperdine’s top scorer.

“Jordan probably gives up more of his game than anyone, and he does it selflessly,” Smith said. “We give him the hardest assignment every night, we don’t run a ton of stuff for him, and he doesn’t complain.”

Darryl Polk Jr. made it 69-62 Pepperdine with an uncontested drive to the hoop, but Ratinho’s seventh and final 3-pointer cut it to four. Bouyea then scored in transition and hit a 3-pointer on the following possession to give the Dons a one-point lead — their first advantage since late in the first half.

Bouyea continued to dominate with a steal and fast-break layup to make it 72-69, as San Francisco was suddenly in control with the benefit of fresh legs and the support of a home crowd, which seemed far louder than the listed attendance of 1,836.

It marked the second time Bouyea has come up big against Pepperdine. In last year’s 80-73 home win, he hit a trio of 3-pointers as part of a 13-point showing, the highest output of his freshman year. He also finished with 13 on Thursday, with 11 coming in the second half.

“It was a tough game for me, but I was able to come out strong in the second half,” Bouyea said. “That got the crowd into it, and we took off from there.”

From there, the Dons were able to simply run Pepperdine into the ground. The Waves at one point had connected on 11 of 18 3-point attempts, but with their rotation severely shortened by the absence of two starters, they missed their final seven looks from beyond the arc. Though Pepperdine cut the lead to one on a pair of free throws by sophomore Colbey Ross, who scored a team-high 21, San Francisco post Matt McCarthy came up with a big and-1 at the other end, and the Dons were well on their way to improving to 13-1 at home.

Part of that depth came from impactful play off the bench by Taavi Jurkatamm and Dzmitry Ryuny. Jurkatamm played 22 minutes with Nate Renfro in foul trouble and pulled down six rebounds, while Ryuny hit a pair of threes in the first half.

“We needed it, especially with Portland fresh,” Smith said. “They didn’t play tonight, and we’ve got to go up there Saturday.”

Two free throws by Frankie Ferrari and a fast break layup by Ratinho made it an eight-point game, McCarthy scored inside again to put the Dons up 10 and Ratinho drove the nail into the coffin with a steal and a layup. There was minimal drama in the final minutes as the Dons took care of business at the free throw line, where they finished 13-of-18 despite missing their first three attempts — the only three tries they had in the first half.

Ferrari finished with 15, while McCarthy and Charles Minlend each scored nine. Minlend and Ferrari combined to shoot just 7-of-20 from the floor, but made all six of their free throws. Cooper Jr. scored 19 for Pepperdine, while Dunn and Edwards each added 12. The only Pepperdine starter not to finish in double-figures was Andre Ball, cousin of Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo.

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