GAME NOTES: Fresh off of their biggest win of the 2012-13 campaign, the San Francisco Dons return to War Memorial Gymnasium to host the Portland Pilots for West Coast Conference action.
This will be the second matchup between these schools on the hardwood this season and 84th overall. USF collected a hard-fought, 75-72 victory at Portland on Jan. 24 despite collecting only 17 rebounds in the affair. De'End Parker and Cole Dickerson combined for 31 points to lead the Dons while Ryan Nicholas paced the Pilots with a game-high 23 points. Dickerson knocked down a triple with 0.01 left on the clock to decide the bout.
Dating back to the 1962-63 season, USF leads the series with Portland, 58-25, including 45-23 in WCC play. The two teams have also met four times in WCC Tournament action, with the Dons holding a 3-1 edge. USF has won six straight in the series and is 26-10 versus the Pilots dating back to the 1996-97 season.
Rex Walters's Dons have been playing exceptionally well in recent weeks, going 4-2 with the losses coming to the WCC powers Gonzaga (66-52) and Saint Mary's (67-63). USF lit up the nets in Provo on Saturday on its way to a 99-87 victory over BYU, which helped it avenge a four-point loss to the Cougars it sustained at home in early January. The win lifted the Dons to an 11-13 overall record, which includes its 4-7 mark in WCC action. USF trails the conference-leading Gonzaga Bulldogs by 6.5 games with only four to play after Thursday.
USF shot a season-best 57.1 percent from the field and drained 14 shots from beyond the arc for the second consecutive game to upset BYU on the road. Parker was named the WCC Player of the Week for his performance in the game, as he tallied 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Dickerson posted his 10th double- double of the season with 14 points and 11 boards while Chris Adams and Avry Holmes scored 17 points apiece. Although they are just fifth in WCC in scoring offense, the Dons' average of 70.1 ppg is nothing to sleep on. Fortunately for its opposition, USF allows 69.8 ppg, which is the second-highest scoring defense mark in the league.
Portland's woes continued on Saturday as it lost a 72-68 overtime thriller to Pepperdine on its own floor. The loss dropped the Pilots in second to last place in the WCC standings at 2-9 and gave them their seventh loss in their past eight outings. All five Portland starters reached double-figures in the setback, led by senior point guard Derrick Rodgers's balanced contribution of 17 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.
Coach Eric Reveno's team is enduring another rebuilding season, and while the team has shown flashes of potential, it is far from competing for the WCC crown. Nicholas is the leader of the team with 13.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per contest while Kevin Bailey chipped in 11.0 ppg on 42.1 percent shooting from the field. Rodgers has really stepped up his play as his career nears its Swan Song. The 6-foot-1 senior has converted 13-of-15 at the free-throw line and dealt out 18 assists over his past two outings. On the season, the Pilots are being outscored by an average of 6.8 ppg, which is the worst differential in the conference.
Although the first matchup between these schools this season went down to the wire, the sequel looks like it will play out much differently. The red-hot Dons are firing on all cylinders coming into this one and while Portland has been competitive, it does not have what it takes to steal one on the road from Dickerson and company.
Game Date and Time