- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 27, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - One half of good shooting proved to be enough to carry San Francisco to a win in the opener of the College Basketball Invitational final.

Chase Foster and Jordan Ratinho each scored 17 points, and San Francisco rode a fast start to a 72-62 victory over North Texas in Game 1 of the best-of-three series on Monday night.

“We were in transition running and playing,” Foster said. “We were making a lot of shots and keeping them out of transition which is their best offense.”

The Dons (22-15) made 12 of 18 3-point attempts in the first half as they built an 18-point lead but struggled to make anything in the second, shooting 29 percent from the field and missing their first seven free-throw attempts.

“We were playing well, we were getting in transition and firing on all cylinders,” coach Kyle Smith said. “I actually thought in the second half we had some good shots but just couldn’t make them.”

Frankie Ferrari added 13 points and nine assists for the Dons.

Roosevelt Smart scored 15 points and Zachary Simmons had 22 rebounds for the Mean Green (18-18), who scored at least 90 points in each of the first three games of the tournament.

“We’ve been able to get out in transition,” coach Grant McCasland said. “That was the biggest deal. When you play in transition, you get easy baskets. There was no transition early because we were getting it out of the net every time.”

North Texas cut San Francisco’s lead to eight late in the second half and had the ball with a chance to get closer before the Dons seized momentum. After Ryan Woolridge turned the ball over in the lane, Ferrari fed Matt McCarthy for a dunk that made it 63-53 with three minutes to go.

Smart then missed a layup and USF answered with a 3-pointer from Foster.

“Our guys responded great,” McCasland said. “They kept competing. We just didn’t have enough sharing the basketball on the offensive end. We tried to get too many back on one possession. We made them miss, but we couldn’t close the gap quick enough.”

The Dons made seven of their first eight tries from 3-point range and used a 22-2 run to break out to an early 18-point lead. Ratinho hit his fifth 3 in the closing minute of the first half and USF went to the break with a 46-30 lead.

BIG PICTURE

North Texas: The Mean Green got to the CBI Final behind a high-powered offense that averaged 92 points in the first three games and made 14 of 20 3-pointers in a semifinal win over Jacksonville State. That shooting was nowhere to be found against USF as North Texas scored 30 points below its tournament average and shot 4 for 21 from 3-point range.

San Francisco: Nate Renfro played a key role for the Dons with four blocked shots defensively and some key plays on the offensive end in the second half. USF missed three shots on one trip before Renfro scored on a tip-in. The Dons missed their first 10 attempts from 3-point range until Renfro hit one from the corner with six minutes left to make it 61-49.

SENIOR NIGHT PART 2

Foster, the only senior on the Dons, struggled a bit last month in his final regular-season home game. But he got a reprieve in this tournament, playing four more home games and finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists against North Texas.

“This was his redemption for Senior Night,” Smith said. “There won’t be another home game. He didn’t play great in that game. That can happen. But he was awesome tonight.”

UP NEXT

The series shifts to Texas for Game 2 on Wednesday night and then Game 3 on Friday if necessary.

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More AP college basketball: collegebasketball.ap.org and twitter.com/AP_Top25

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