Las Vegas, OR – The WCC Tournament continued tonight featuring a matchup with No. 4-seed San Francisco facing off against No. 5-seed BYU. Both teams are hoping for NCAA Tournament bids, with the Dons likely in the tournament with a No. 26 NET rating coming in. BYU likely needed a win to help their chances as they were on the bubble as of today (No. 50 NET rating). BYU, coming off a 25-point win over Loyola Marymount last night, appeared sluggish and USF took advantage. Their star guards, Jamaree Bouyea and Khalil Shabazz dominated the action as the Dons pulled away in the second half in a 75-63 win.
Shabazz scored 22 points, connecting on 5-of-9 from deep. Bouyea added 18 points along with six rebounds and four assists. Foussenyi Traore was impressive again for BYU. The 6-6, 254-pound freshman from Mali scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds showing toughness inside and quick jumping ability. Alex Barcello, BYU’s leading scorer was hounded by USF defenders, and while he still led his team with 18 points, only shot 5-of-12 from the field and 1-of-5 from deep. The Cougars were successful on only 3-of-20 three-point attempts. The Dons weren’t especially efficient (7-of-20) but that was much better than BYU shot.
The first half was a defensive struggle with San Francisco taking a 27-24 lead into the break. Bouyea (9 points) and Shabazz (8) led the way for the Dons. San Francisco played solid defense on BYU’s Barcello and limited him to three shots (5 points) in the half. The Dons also held the Cougars to 1-of-7 from deep.
The Dons started pulling away with a 13-2 run midway through the second half. That run extended their lead to 15 points and they maintained a double-digit lead until the Cougars went on a seven-point run to cut the USF lead to 60-52. Shabazz countered with a three-pointer to put the Dons back in control. They coasted from there to the 12-point victory.
San Francisco (24-8) advances to the semifinals on Monday night when they will face top-ranked Gonzaga. Regardless of the outcome the Dons appear headed to the NCAA Tournament. BYU will need to sweat out Selection Sunday as tonight’s loss may have put them outside looking in.