SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The University of San Diego men's basketball team battled to extend their West Coast Conference undefeated streak, beating the Loyola Marymount Lions 78-70 at the Jenny Craig Pavilion on Wednesday night before 3,079 fans. With the win, the Toreros sit atop the WCC standings at 4-0, with top-10 Gonzaga right behind at 3-0.
"The team's certainly excited and we feel good," USD head coach Bill Grier said. "I don't know how we couldn't feel good. We know it's early and we have a really tough schedule ahead. We're at BYU and Saint Mary's in the next two games. Those are going to be two very difficult ones, but I think we're playing with more confidence."
USD's win on Wednesday marked its sixth straight at home and the first time the team has gone 4-0 in conference play since January of 2009, during head coach Bill Grier's second season at the helm of the Toreros.
USD's offensive performance was sparked by its ability to capitalize on turnovers. The Toreros managed to outscore LMU 23 to 12 on points scored off of turnovers.
John Sinis made four three-pointers to finish with 12 points in win
The Lions athleticism kept the Toreros (11-8, 4-0 WCC) on their heels through the opening minutes, as LMU(8-10, 1-4 WCC) grinded out a 15-9 lead with 11:59 left in the first half. But the Toreros fought back and played some solid defense, forcing a 14-6 run to close out the first half with the 30-35 lead.
USD forward John Sinis led the offensive charge for the Toreros throughout the first half. The 6-9 forward from Greece scored nine points on three consecutive shots from beyond the arc.
"We were struggling in the first half," Grier said. "We were somewhat lethargic offensively, and to have John come in and knock down perimeter shots, it really kind of helped us, and gave us some energy."
Sinis said that coming in and making an impact is just a part of Grier's expectations.
"That's what coach asks of me," Sinis said after the game. "Knock down the threes, I just shoot and I'm relaxed. My teammates also did a good job finding me open on the perimeter."
Sinis would finish Wednesday's contest with three rebounds and a season high 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting from beyond the three.
USD kept its momentum coming out of the locker room taking the Lions along for a 16-5 run through the first nine minutes of the second half, leading 53-35. LMU fought back to within an 8-point deficit with 4:13 left on the clock, but their late game surge couldn't muster anything more than that, as USD closed it out with 78-70 victory.
Sophomore guards Johnny Dee and Christopher Anderson kept the Toreros offense hot, shooting for 15 and 14 points respectively. LMU was paced by Anthony Ireland (19 points) and forward Ashley Hamilton (15 points, 8 rebounds).
With an 8-2 home record so far this season, the Toreros will have to leave the friendly confines of the Jenny Craig Pavilion and head to a tough road matchup at BYU on Saturday, but the team remains confident that its undefeated conference record will keep them motivated. BYU suffered its first conference loss tonight at home to Saint Mary's, 70-69, and sports a 14-5 record and 4-1 WCC mark.
"I'm so excited," Anderson said. "I'm speechless, (4-0 in conference play) hasn't happened here in a long time, the guys are excited, we just have to keep on this roll."
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