Roberts Goes for 30, Dons Knock off Cougars
The USF Dons took on the visiting BYU Cougars in a crucial West Coast Conference Game with the Dons deep in the standings and needing a win to stay in the race for a good spot in the WCC Tournament. This year, the WCC has been extremely competitive with almost every team looking like they could win the conference. Every team is 5 or less games out of 1st Place except for Pepperdine who is 7 games out of 1st Place. USF entered this game 13-9 and coming off a blowout win over Pacific. Zane Meeks put up 17 points for the Dons, Tyrell Roberts had 13, Josh Kunen had 13 and sophomore Ndewedo Newbury had 9 points and 11 rebounds. The Cougars were coming off a tough loss to the Santa Clara Broncos. The Broncos beat the Cougars 83-76 after a very intense and high scoring second half. Rudi Williams came off the bench for the Cougars and scored 24 points. Spencer Johnson had 17 points and 3 steals for the Cougars.
Highlights from USF Warmups
The Dons looked hyped up to play BYU in warmups with almost every Don looking consistent from long range, the free throw line and from inside. The Cougars seemed very focused with there being not much talking during their warmups. The Dons finished their warmups with every player dunking and the team rallying around them. There was a great atmosphere inside the Sobrato Center and inside the USF Dons huddle. The last time I had seen this team, they fought hard but fell inside the Chase Center to an undefeated Utah State on December 4th, but this time, in warmups, they seemed like they had more chemistry and a better atmosphere around the team. They seemed more ready than the Cougars.
The Opening Tipoff
The Cougars won the tip off and missed a layup but they trapped Tyrell Roberts in a corner after a rebound which forced the Dons to call one of their 4 timeouts very early into thehalf. The Dons came out of the timeout ready to play and started to pull away. Their shooting offense couldn't be stopped with the Dons going on an 16-5 run in the first 7 minutes of the game. Zane Meeks hit a three, Shabazz had a 3 and a layup, Tyrell Roberts hit a three, Isaiah Hawthorne hit a three and Saba Gigiberia made a layup to complete USF's great run. Rudi Williams started to takeover the Cougars offense and started scoring a lot for BYU. A jumper, 2 free throws and a 3 pointer put BYU within 8 with 8 minutes left. Tyrell Roberts and Zane Meeks took over, hitting threes and knocking down free throws. The Dons lead heading into the locker room, 37-28.
The Dons came out of the locker room and began to heat up. BYU was a second half team, but the Dons would not let the Cougars pull the game close. Zane Meeks hit a three to start the second half and BYU responded with a layup and a three of their own. The Cougars pulled within 6 but the Dons wouldn't let them come closer. Tyrell Roberts hit a layup and Kahlil Shabazz hit a three. Rudi Williams responded with a jumper and Fousseyni Traore made a layup and then dunked after Zane Meeks responded with a layup. Tyrell Roberts tookover the game with consecutive threes and then Khalil Shabazz had a layup. Rudi Williams and the Dons traded buckets and free throws and the Cougars began to pull close behind Williams. With 2 minutes left and the Dons up 9, Roberts hit 2 free throws and Hawthorne drove for a layup for the Dons to expand their lead back to double digits. The Cougars then began to press the Dons and got 3 layups from it to cut the lead to 7 points, but the Cougs were in foul trouble and sent the Dons to the line too much which ended their bid for a comeback. Tyrell Roberts made 2 of 2 free throws and the Cougars hastily took the ball down the court and got fouled and scored both free throws, but fouled Khalil Shabazz on the inbound. Shabazz made both and the Cougs got a layup on the other end from Williams. Tyrell Roberts made a free throw and Spencer Johnson got a layup on the other end, but it was over as the Cougars committed their 10th foul with 8 seconds left. Khalil Shabazz made both free throws and Rudi Williams missed his 3 pointer on the other end, ending the game with USF winning 82-74.
Rudi Williams finished with 28 points and 2 assists for the Cougars; Gideon George finished with 12, Jaxson Robinson finished with 11 and Traore finished with 10. As a team, BYU finished with a 50.9% FG percentage, going 28-55 from the field, but were 5-17 from 3 point range. The Cougars were 13 for 16 from the free throw line, had 26 rebounds, 11 steals, 15 turnovers and 23 team fouls. The Cougars never had a lead and went home to Provo 14-9 and 4-4 in conference play. The Cougars face St. Mary's at home on the 28th.
Tyrell Roberts finished with 30 points and 4 rebounds; Khalil Shabazz finished with 21 points and 5 rebounds. Zane Meeks finished with 13 points and Isaiah Hawthorne finished with 10. The Dons shot 40% from the the field and 41% from 3 point range. The Dons made 24 of their 27 free throw attempts. The Dons had 27 rebounds, 17 turnovers and 16 fouls, and their biggest lead was 16 points. The Dons will face San Diego in Southern California on the 28th. The Dons are 14-9 and 3-5 in WCC play.