(Las Vegas, NV) - The USD Toreros delivered their biggest win of the season Friday evening with their 72-69 victory over the No. 3 seed BYU Cougars. Sophomore guard Johnny Dee poured in 25 points, including some key free throws in the closing moments to advance the Toreros into Saturday's 8:30 p.m. semifinal against the No. 2 seed Saint Mary's Gaels. It was a total team effort and Dee was followed in the double-digit scoring column by guard Christopher Anderson (16 points) and forward Ken Rancifer (15 points).
The Toreros (16-17) jumped out to an early 9-4 lead three minutes into the contest, but the Cougars came right back to tie the score at 11-all on a Matt Carlino jumper with 14:24 to go. Ken Rancifer connected on two big three-pointers that gave the Toreros a 26-18 advantage with 6:57 left. A trey by Johnny Dee with 4:18 to go extended USD's lead to eleven at 31-20, but BYU got within five points before Rancifer cashed in on two free throws for a 35-28 intermission lead. Dee and Rancifer each had 10 points at the break.
The second half was just a battle at both ends of the floor with the Cougars battling back and the game being tied on five different occasions. Two free throws and a three-pointer from Christopher Anderson gave the Toreros a one-point lead (59-58) with 4:12 to go. BYU held its final lead of the game at 60-59 on a Tyler Haws jumper, but Dee immediately answered with another three-pointer for a 65-62 advantage. From there USD made 7-of-8 free throws with Dee going 5-6 in the final 23 seconds to hold off the Cougars. A Matt Carlino three-pointer with eight ticks left got the Cougars within one at 70-69, but Dee iced the game moments later with his final two free throws.
BYU (21-11) received big games from Haws (20 points) and forward Brandon Davies (20 points, 9 rebounds). USD also received key play from Chris Manresa (10 rebounds), Jito Kok (7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Mike Davis (6 points). Simi Fajemisin also did a great job with his interior defense against BYU's bigs. With his two blocks, Kok moved into the 2nd spot all-time for a USD player in a season with 53 blocks. He'll have another shot of catching Dondi Bell's mark of 55 when the Toreros face the 23rd-ranked Saint Mary's Gaels Saturday night.
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