WAR MEMORIAL GYM — After an unsightly first half, the University of San Francisco stormed back against Santa Clara, but never managed to pull level, falling 65-62 on Thursday.
A near-half court buzzer-beating heave from Jamaree Bouyea capped the Dons’ spirited second-half rally on a night when the Dons lost the game in the opening 20 minutes.
The defeat marks the Dons fourth loss in five games and drops the team to 10-10 overall and 2-5 in WCC play.
On a night when the Dons sank into seventh place in the conference, here’s what you need to know…
The Dons scored 19 points in 20 minutes. Woof. That’s the best way to summarize the host’s bogged down offensive showing in the first half. The Dons shot 32 percent from the field (8-for-25), didn’t hit a triple (0-for-7) and scored less than a point per minute.
The Dons began the night 0-for-9 from distance before Souley Boum finally hit a 3-pointer a little more than two minutes into the second half. Not even head coach Kyle Smith realized just how futile the first half was.
“We didn’t shoot the ball from 3[-point range]. We made two in the first half,” Smith said before stopping to correct himself. “No we didn’t — [we were] 0-for. [It was] hard to score. And when we did, we can’t make a 3. They bothered us.”
A tale of two halves. The buckets began to flow after the break, when the Dons outscored the Broncos 43-38. From the field, USF was a far more respectable 17-for-36 (47.2 percent). The Dons were better from distance, but still poor overall, connecting on 5 of 14 shots (35.7 percent).
With his team skidding through a 1-4 stretch, Smith didn’t have any words of wisdom for his understrength Dons.
“You just got to keep plugging and get better,” Smith said. “We were short-handed. I’ll tell you guys that. I’m not going to tell them that.”
Sixth-man extraordinaire Chase Foster and forward Taavi Jurkatamm were out with injuries, while forward Remu Raitanen was limited to just four minutes due to a flu bug.
“We need all the bodies we can get,” Smith said. “We need all the guys available we can have.”
Nate Renfro is the Jordan Bell of the Dons. A 6-foot-7 junior forward, Renfro is the most athletic Don on the roster. On Thursday night, he was the most athletic player on the floor.
With about five minutes to go in the opening half, Renfro soared above Henry Caruso, blocking the Broncos’ forward before standing over him.
Just over a minute later, Renfro threw down a two-handed dunk, drawing the and-one and completing the three-point play.
He played the first 24 minutes against Santa Clara before Smith rested him heavily done the stretch. Renfro ended the evening 3-for-5 from the field, tallying nine points and a team-high seven rebounds.
The starters stayed local. For the second time in as many games, Smith went with the starting five of Boum, Frankie Ferrari, Matt McCarthy, Jordan Ratinho and Renfro. The starting crew had a decidedly local character, as Boum is from Oakland, Ferrari is from Burlingame and Ratinho is from Livermore.
The scoring for the starters was about as evenly dispersed as it gets…
For Ferrari, the high-point man, all 13 points came in the second half.