SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The USD Toreros used a strong defensive effort to put the clamps on visiting Portland in earning a 61-50 victory in each team's West Coast Conference opener this evening before 1,851 fans at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. With the win the Toreros even their record at 8-8 overall, while the Pilots fall to 7-9. The 50 points the Toreros limited Portland to is a season-low for USD opponents. The win was USD's 5th straight at the Jenny Craig Pavilion and improves their home record to 7-2.
Chris Anderson led the Toreros in scoring with 14 points
"I thought this was a really, really big game for us," said head coach Bill Grier. "This was a game I thought we had to have. This was a typical league game. It was two teams battling really hard and neither team really getting into an offensive rhythm. What I was pleased with was the way we finished this game off."
Sophomore guard Christopher Anderson, who missed his first collegiate game in USD's last outing with the flu, returned to the starting lineup to spark the Toreros with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Senior forward Ken Rancifer chipped in with 10 second half points and senior forward Chris Manresa just missed out on his third straight double-double with 9 points and 11 rebounds.
The first half saw the game knotted at 27-all with no player scoring more than 6 points in the first 20 minutes. In the second half Portland edged ahead by 3 points on three different occasions, the last coming at 36-33 with 14:43 to go. From there Rancifer added a three-pointer and an old-fashioned three-point play to give USD a 39-36 lead with 12:37 left.
A layup by Thomas van der Mars gave Portland their final lead at 42-41 with 7:55 to go. USD's Mike Davis answered with a layup, and the game was tied for the final time at 43-43 with 6:13 to go. From there it was all Toreros as they closed the game 18-7 run. USD's final offensive surge was paced by six points from Anderson and five points by Johnny Dee. On the defensive end in the closing minutes Jito Kok had a couple of big blocks and finished the game with 4 points and 3 blocks.
For the game USD shot 40.8% from the field, 37.5% from the three-point arc (6-16) and a solid 78.9% from the free throw line (15-19). The Toreros are off this weekend, and return to action with back-to-back WCC games at USF (Jan. 10th) and Pepperdine (Jan. 12th).
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