The San Francisco Dons entered the 2011-12 season looking to build on a strong finish to the 2010-11 season. The Dons finished last year 19-15 and apparently they were reading a few too many of their own press clippings. USF was upset in its regular season opener by the North Dakota State Bison 73-65 as Taylor Braun and freshman Lawrence Alexander combined on 39 points in the victory.
The Dons took an early lead, up 20-16 at one point and looked like they had the inside game to put this one away. However, turnovers killed them throughout the first half and USF entered halftime trailing the Bison 35-24. The Dons got on the comeback trail early in the second half and at one point took a one point lead. However, an 11-point Bison run put the game away in the final minutes.
Sophomore Taylor Braun led North Dakota State with 26 points and 10 rebounds. However, true freshman Lawrence Alexander put on quite a show in his first college game. Alexander scored 13 points, dished out eight assists and grabbed nine rebounds in a team-high 37 minutes. He fell just short of a triple double in his first career start, which is mighty impressive.
The Dons were led by the inside presence of Perris Blackwell, who scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Blackwell dominated the Bison inside but the Dons did not seem to go in to him nearly enough. Early on he was having little trouble getting around his man to the basket and it would have made sense to just keep on feeding him. Instead, USF struggled with offensive fouls and a host of other turnovers, giving away the ball 21 times on the evening.
USF has little time to reflect on the loss as they turn around to face the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks Saturday evening. The Dons are 1-2 all-time against the Lumberjacks and will look to right the ship on Saturday. Northern Arizona dropped their season opener in the Hilltop Challenge, losing to Louisiana-Lafayette 83-66.