GAME NOTES: The third-seeded San Francisco Dons and the second-seeded BYU Cougars will square off in the semifinal round of the West Coast Conference Tournament on Monday afternoon at Orleans Arena, with the winner advancing to Tuesday's championship game to take on either Gonzaga or Saint Mary's.
USF opened up its stay in the tournament with a quarterfinal-round victory over San Diego on Saturday, 69-60, for its sixth straight win. After finishing 13-5 in the WCC, the Dons are now 21-10 overall, their best season since earning 25 wins during the 1981-82 campaign.
BYU also extended a winning streak with a triumph in the quarterfinals, as it has now won five in a row following an 85-74 defeat of Loyola Marymount. The Cougars have lost just once since Jan. 30, a span of 10 games, to improve to 22-10.
The Cougars swept the Dons during the regular season as they extended their advantage in the all-time series to 10-6.
The Dons built up a 10-point halftime lead over San Diego in their quarterfinal-round matchup, and while they saw that advantage dwindle to just one in the second half, they promptly pulled away with an 8-0 run. They shot a modest 42.6 percent from the field but held to Toreros to only 37.3 percent shooting, and they also were aided by a 37-28 rebounding advantage. Avry Holmes paced the effort with 19 points on 3-of-6 from 3-point range and 8-of-9 at the foul line. Cole Dickerson added 14 points and eight rebounds, while Tim Derksen came off the bench to net 15.
USF's offensive attack has been stellar all season long, as it shoots 47.7 percent from the field for 75.1 ppg, which has been strong enough to support a disappointing defensive effort (71.2 ppg). Dickerson shoots 51.6 percent from the field for 14.6 ppg to go with 7.6 rpg, but he's been dreadful at the foul line (.487). Holmes (12.7 ppg), Kruize Pinkins (12.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Mark Tollefsen (10.8 ppg) round out the squad's double-digit scorers.
The Cougars barely broke a sweat in their most recent contest, as they outshot LMU from the floor, 46.2 percent to 37.1 percent, and won the rebounding battle, 16-9, en route to the 11-point victory. Kyle Collinsworth was the catalyst with career highs in both points (23) and rebounds (16) while shooting a lofty 10-of-15 from the floor. Tyler Haws missed all five of his 3- point attempts, but still finished with 22 points, Anson Winder netted 16 points and swiped six steals, while Matt Carlino scored 11 off the bench.
On the season, BYU's offense has been even better than USF's. In fact, at 85.0 ppg, it ranks as the nation's third-highest scoring unit. Haws is the countries sixth-ranked scorer at 23.3 ppg and has been very efficient from the backcourt, shooting 47.5 percent from the floor, 41.3 percent from beyond the arc and 86.6 percent at the foul line. Matt Carlino (14.0 ppg) has knocked down a team-high 57 3-pointers. Collinsworth brings 13.9 ppg and 8.0 rpg to the frontcourt and Eric Mika adds 11.8 ppg and 6.1 rpg to the mix. It's a good thing BYU scores so many points because its scoring defense (77.1 ppg) is one of the country's worst.
In what will most certainly be a high-scoring affair between two red-hot teams, expect BYU's explosive backcourt to make the difference down the stretch as it clinches a berth in the title game.
Game Date and Time