Toreros Win Three Straight in Vegas
What a three days its been for the USD Men’s Basketball team.
Going into Thursday night’s matchup with Portland, USD had not won a game in the WCC Tournament since 2013. Now, they find themselves two wins away from the NCAA Tournament.
Facing the last place Pilots in the opening round, a team who hadn’t won a game in WCC play all season, the Toreros knew they needed to end their Vegas losing streak.
Isaiah Pineiro scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, his 16th double-double of the season, as USD won its opening round matchup 67-47.
The Toreros lead for most of the first half but were unable to fully take control and pull away. Leading 31-30 with 29 seconds to go before halftime, Tyler Williams knocked down a three pointer to give USD a 34-30 lead at the break and a big momentum boost heading into the second half.
The Toreros clamped down on defense to start the second half, not allowing Portland to make a field goal until the 11:07 mark. USD outscored the Pilots 33-17 in the second half en route to the 20 point victory in the First Round of the WCC Tournament.
USD’s strong defense continued in Friday night’s second round matchup against the 6 seeded Santa Clara Broncos as the Toreros pulled off the 62-45 upset.
Isaiah Wright lead the team with 23 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out a season high 8 assists. However, his biggest contribution may have been on the defensive end.
Wright did not play the first time the teams met in January, a 68-56 win for Santa Clara. In that game Broncos guard Tahj Eaddy had 30 points. On Friday night with Wright guarding him, Eaddy was held to just 8 points on 3-12 shooting and did not score until the 7:50 mark of the second half.
Both teams starting the game slow offensively as USD lead 25-16 at halftime. Santa Clara did not score their first points of the game until the 12:54 mark of the first half.
The Toreros offense picked up in the second half as they extended the lead to 33-19 with 17:28 left on a thunderous slam by Pineiro.
Pineiro scored 15 points and led the team with 9 rebounds.
USD continued to play strong defensively and picked up offensively as they continued to build on their lead, leading by as many as 24 in the second half. USD held Santa Clara to 27% shooting from the field.
Saturday night, the Toreros faced the 3 seeded BYU Cougars, a team who had defeated them twice in the regular season. Playing their third game in three days facing a fresh BYU team? No problem for the team as USD’s strong defense continued en route to a 80-57 blowout upset victory.
USD starting the game on a 13-0 run with 11 of those points coming from Wright and continued to extend the lead to 30-10 by the 5:59 mark in the first half.
While USD played its best half of basketball for the season, the rested Cougars look uncharastically out of sorts, missing layups, free throws and leaving USD players wide open on offense.
This play sums up how the first half went for both sides.
Leading by 27 a halftime, the Toreros extended the lead to 30 with 16:28 left in the game. At one point in the second half, USD led by as many as 44.
Once again, strong defense was the reason why the team found themselves in the win column.
TJ Haws, who scored 35 and 26 in the two regular season matchups, was held to just 10 points on 2-12 shooting. Yoeli Childs, who had 27 and 29 in both matchups, was held to 14 points. BYU’s 5% from the three point line (1-17) was the worst three point shooting effort in WCC Tournament history.
Pineiro lead USD with 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season. Freshman guard Finn Sullivan scored a career high 17 points.
USD will now have a day off on Sunday before facing 2 seeded St. Mary’s on Monday Night. The game will tip off at 8:30PM on ESPN 2.