The last time the University of San Francisco defeated a top-5 team came on December 29, 1981 when the then sixth ranked Dons defeated No. 2 Wichita State 84-74. On Friday morning at the Mohegan Sun Arena, the Dons did it again, defeating No. 4 Virginia 61-60.
Stifling defense and clutch shooting from beyond the arc formed the recipe for the upset by the Dons, who were playing their third game in as many days. USF (2-1) held Virginia (1-1) to 60 points after the Cavaliers scored 89 against Towson two days ago.
“I’m incredibly proud of our players for the way they executed both mentally and physically,” said head coach Todd Golden. “We showed tremendous toughness. Virginia is a program that we want to be like, they are incredibly well coached, they are tough, they play to win, they play for each other. To go on a neutral court and beat them is a springboard kind of win for our program.”
The Dons finished with three in double figures and were once again led by the tremendous play from senior guard Jamaree Bouyea. Bouyea scored a game-high 19 points, going 8-for-15 from the field and 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. He also had six assists – with no turnovers, and two steals.
“Jamaree was the best player on the court today,” said Golden. “He played 36 minutes and masterfully controlled the game on both sides of the court – the way he defended Kihei Clark was a big reason why we got this done.”
Khalil Shabazz joined Bouyea in double figures by scoring 14, going 5-for-11 from the field and 3-for-4 from long distance. Shabazz had a four point play with 8:08 in the contest that brought the Dons back within one, while also regaining the momentum.
Dzmitry Ryuny added with 10 points, going 3-for-10 from the field, he also had four rebounds in another solid outing. Taavi Jurkatamm tied his career high with eight points, after starting the game 1-for-7 from the field and 0-for-2 from distance, he hit a pair of late 3-point field goals to help close out the win.
“Today was a truly just a great team effort, to be honest,” added Golden. “Everyone who played contributed and that’s what you need when you play a team like Virginia. Great moment for our program, especially after all the time effort and energy that our guys have given over the last eight months. This is a great experience for us and something that we need to build on as we get into the season. If we stay focused and stay mentally tough, this is going to be a really special season.”
Virginia was led by Justin McCoy and Reece Beekman who each had 11 points, and Sam Hauser who chipped in 10.
After opening the contest 1-for-9 from the field the Dons found themselves behind UVA 9-2 early. But the Dons’ defense turned it up a notch, holding the Cavaliers scoreless for over five minutes. During that stretch, the offense heated up thanks to five points from Bouyea, which keyed an 11-0 run to give the Dons a lead.
The half ended with UVA taking the lead back by holding the Dons scoreless for over two minutes. When the two teams went into their respective locker rooms, the Dons trailed by three.
Out of the break, Virginia went on a 4-0 run to take a seven point lead, up 28-21. But the Dons were not phased. USF responded with an 11-0 run themselves, spurred on by a triple from Bouyea to capture a 32-28 advantage.
Down the stretch, the two sides traded the lead seven times. Then Bouyea took a pass from Jurkatamm on a beautifully designed play after a break, giving the Dons a 55-54 lead with 3:18 to play. Immediately after, Bouyea got a steal and found Shabazz, who hit an open three in the corner to give the Dons a four point cushion – a lead they never relinquished.