SAN FRANCISCO – The Dons made a triumphant return to Kezar Pavilion on Tuesday night by defeating the San Francisco State Gators, 91-59.
The Dons improve to 7-1 on the year — their best start since 1999-2000 — and run their Kezar Pavilion winning streak to 37 games. The game was USF’s first in its original home since March 4, 1958.
Christina Leung | USF Athletics
Players from the national championship teams were present to watch the game.
With several members of USF’s two national championship teams watching the game from court side and fans enjoying rolled back concession prices along with a steady diet of 50’s music, the Dons had throwback moment of their own by dominating the Gators in the second half en route to the 32 point victory.
Four Dons scored in double figures, led by Chase Foster, who bettered his career high for a second consecutive game by finishing with 22 points. Matt McCarthy, Charles Minlend and Marquill Smith all finished with 12 points. McCarthy, who was 6-of-8 from the floor, also grabbed a game high nine rebounds, narrowly missing his first career double-double.
Coley Apsay was the only Gator in double figures with 10 points.
USF, which came into the game with the nation’s seventh-best shooting percentage, shot 51.4 percent from the floor, marking the sixth consecutive game the Dons have made at least half of their shots from the field. The Dons connected on 12-of-28 three-pointers, with Smith canning four and Foster nailing three.
USF never trailed in the game but had just a five point lead at intermission, 37-32. With USF holding onto a six point lead at 42-36, the Dons scored six straight points to boost their lead to 12 at 48-36 with 16:10 remaining. Sophomore Nate Renfro’s slam off an alley oop pass from Ronnie Boyce shook the dust off the Kezar Pavilion rafters.
The Gators were still within eight points at 50-42 following a three-pointer by Apsay, but the Dons put the game out of reach with a decisive 11-0 run that gave USF a 61-42 lead with 13:19 left. Foster scored eight of the Dons 11 points during the run while Boyce added a three-pointer.
San Francisco State, which played the game as an exhibition, would get no closer than 15 points to the Dons lead down the stretch before falling by the 91-59 count.
“It was a great atmosphere in here tonight,” said USF head coach Kyle Smithfollowing the game. “We’ll never be confused with the 1955-56 Dons but I was very pleased with our effort, especially in the second half. Nate (Renfro) really got us and the crowd going with his dunk off a great pass from Ronnie (Boyce).
“Chase (Foster) is shooting the ball with a lot of confidence right now and Marquill (Smith) came off the bench and gave us some really good minutes.”
USF will be off for the next nine days for final exams and will resume its schedule on Friday, Dec. 16 with a home game against Portland State of the Big Sky Conference.