Men’s and women’s basketball struggle vs. BYU
VINCE VIDAURRI | CONTRIBUTOR
Both the University of San Diego men’s and women’s basketball teams recently played the Brigham Young University Cougars in West Coast Conference (WCC) matchups.
The Torero men proved to be a worthy match for the Cougars in their game on Feb. 18, an opponent that on paper appeared to have a staggering advantage in this game.
Ultimately the Toreros couldn’t find the basket enough to pull out a victory and suffered a hard fought loss, 69-67, to the Cougars.
A late charge was led by senior guard Duda Sanadze, who scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half.
With seven seconds left in the game, sophomore guardVasa Pusica, who led the Toreros with 17 points, hit a three pointer to pull the Toreros within one point at 68-67.
But it proved to be too late for the Toreros who couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities. Down by two, with three seconds left to shoot, Pusica missed a half-court shot that would have given the Toreros a win.
Senior center Jito Kok lamented the fact that several things went right for USD, they just couldn’t come through in the end.
“We really stuck to our offensive game plan, trying to run them off the three point line and making them play more in the half court where we could slow them down,” Kok said. “BYU likes playing a high possession game and we limited that.”
The Cougars came out on top, led by senior guard Kyle Collinsworth’s 25 points.
BYU took the momentum from this win back to Provo, UT where the teams faced off for the second game of their yearly home-and-home series just two days later.
In this second game, the Cougars flexed their muscles and handily beat the Toreros by a score of 91-33.
The losses dropped the Toreros to 8-19 overall (3-13 in conference) and marked a four game losing streak for the men’s team, who have dropped eight of their last 10 games.
The teams finished the weekend on opposite ends of the WCC standings, with the Cougars in third and the Toreros in last place.
Kok noticed several differences from the first game in San Diego to the second game in the Marriott Center on BYU’s campus.
“In the second game they set the pace early and we struggled shooting from the floor,” Kok said. “It’s difficult to come back against teams as good as BYU and we just kind of dug a hole for ourselves in the start of the game.”
USD did well to contain the Cougars defensively in the Feb. 18 game at the Jenny Craig Pavilion, holding them to below 70 points for the first time since BYU faced off against Gonzaga on Jan. 14.
Ultimately there were a couple costly mistakes which prevented USD from coming out on top of a winnable game.
USD turned the ball over 20 times to BYU’s 10, which led to more fast break opportunities for the Cougars and wasted offensive possessions for the Toreros.
BYU also shot more free throws than USD with attempts at 33 vs 21.
But what cost the Toreros the most was the 10 minutes of game time from the end of the first half to the beginning of the second half.
During that stretch USD did not score any points, relinquishing a 32-19 lead.
After losing their lead in the second half, USD played catchup the rest of the game, never once holding the lead for the final 14 minutes of play.
This game highlighted a disappointing season for the Toreros men’s team who only have two more regular season games before the WCC tournament.
If the Toreros can bring the same defensive intensity and cut down on the self-inflicted mistakes, maybe they can form a run into the deeper rounds of the tournament.
The Torero women’s basketball team also suffered defeat at the hands of the Cougars, losing 68-60.
The Toreros, led by senior guard Malina Hood and her twin sister, forward Maya Hood, did not have enough firepower to top a talented BYU team.
Although leading in free throws and rebounds, the women’s team wasn’t able to capitalize on offense, shooting 40 percent from the field compared to BYU’s 51 percent.
Turnovers also hurt the Lady Toreros, who gave the ball away more than the Cougars.
Although a close game, the Toreros were beaten inside and out, shooting a worse three point percentage, 45 percent vs. 33 percent, and being outscored in the paint 36 to 22.
Meanwhile, the Cougars were led by Lexi Rydalch’s 33 points on 12 of 21 shooting from the field.
Going into the final games of the season, putting a focal point on defense and distributing the ball more effectively should help the women’s team.
Although there were multiple players with double digits, a focus on assists needs to be more prevalent as the Lady Toreros only had 11 throughout the game.
More ball movement rather than single players trying to create their own shot should help cut down on turnovers as well.
These Lady Toreros have suffered a cold streak recently, dropping their last three games after starting out the season 21-3.
This skid of three conference losses has seen USD fall to fourth place in WCC standings and puts a bit of a damper on what has been a largely successful season.
With two games remaining in the regular season, the Lady Toreros hope to turn around their skid and take some momentum into the WCC Tournament.