Game #9-331: San Francisco Dons at Portland PilotsJanuary 24, 2013 10:00 pm
Thursday's Portland Pilots game against the San Francisco Dons came down to the final shot. USF's Cole Dickerson hit a three with 0.1 second left to give the Dons a 75-72 win in a finish that would have been thrilling if you were a USF or neutral fan, and devastating for Pilot fans. From scanning the box scores or news write-ups you would probably think the game was close throughout and USF took advantage of the last shot. But I would argue the game was decided earlier on.
The first half started very nicely for the Pilots. The, um, offensive, offense of last week seemed to be a thing of the past. Kevin Bailey, who had struggled since getting his nose broken in the second game of conference play, was off to a strong start. Ryan Nicholas, who hasn't been scoring often, was also getting open and making shots. However, the Pilot defense was allowing USF to make outside shots and sometimes drive to the basket. Cole Dickerson and De'End Parker, a transfer from UCLA, both are able to drive to the basket or pull up and shoot. Despite this and some unforced turnovers the Pilots were looking much better than they did last week and led 37-33 at the half. It looked as if they were on the way to their second WCC win and a much needed boost in the middle of a tough stretch of the schedule.
Things kept looking okay in the second half. The Pilots stepped up their defense in the first ten minutes of the half and with 9:20 to go held an 11-point lead, 59-48. Nine minutes is a long time, so I didn't think it was over yet. But if they could get one or two more stops and score another basket I thought that would be the end for the Dons. This would be the key point in the game. Could Portland do it?
Unfortunately the answer would be no. In the next two minutes each team had four possessions. USF scored seven points in that time, Portland one. The score was 60-55 with 7:31 left, plenty of time for either team to win. Over the remainder of the game USF continued to pressure the Pilots on defense, forcing turnovers, and converting them into points. Cody Doolin's superhoop that tied it at 72 with 1:20 to go seemed inevitable after the string of missed opportunities Portland will want back. Dickerson's shot to beat the buzzer was no more than the Dons deserved after their second half comeback.
I've heard it said that most games come down to a few possessions, but not always the ones at the end. Portland had a chance to put the game away with ten minutes to go but USF responded and got themselves back in a position to win the game. For the Dons, Dickerson (15 points), Parker (16), and Cody Doolin (7 assists) are all juniors who have experience in pressure situations. Ryan Nicholas (23 points) and Kevin Bailey (15) are going to be more disappointed in the close loss than with breaking out of their scoring slumps. Instead of looking back on a solid win, Portland will have to examine how to close out games so they don't end in losses.
SAN FRANCISCO 75, at PORTLAND 72
SAN FRANCISCO 9-11 (2-5) -- A. Ireland 4-18 4-4 14; C. Dickerson 6-14 0-0 15; C. Doolin 3-7 0-0 7; D. Parker 6-9 4-5 16; M. Christiansen 1-1 0-0 2; T. Derksen 2-2 2-2 8; M. Tollefsen 1-1 0-0 2; C. Adams 2-5 2-2 8; T. Xu 2-3 2-2 6; A. Holmes 2-5 4-4 9; F. Rogers 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 25-47 16-17 75.
PORTLAND 8-13 (1-5) -- R. Nicholas 7-15 8-9 23; D. Rodgers 4-7 1-2 9; O. Reinfelds 1-4 0-0 3; K. Bailey 5-8 4-5 15; T. van der Mars 2-6 2-2 6; B. Pressley 1-3 3-4 5; R. Barker 1-2 0-0 2; K. Thieleke 3-3 0-1 6; J. Ehlers 1-1 0-0 3; T. Riley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-49 18-23 72.
Three-point goals: SF 9-21 (C. Dickerson 3-6; C. Doolin 1-3; C. Adams 2-5; D. Parker 0-2; T. Derksen 2-2; A. Holmes 1-3), PORT 4-10 (R. Barker 0-1; R. Nicholas 1-4; K. Bailey 1-1; J. Ehlers 1-1; O. Reinfelds 1-3); Rebounds: SF 16 (M. Christiansen 4), PORT 25 (B. Pressley 6); Assists: SF 14 (C. Doolin 7), PORT 11 (D. Rodgers 4); Total Fouls -- SF 21, PORT 13; Fouled Out: SF-None; PORT-None.