Men’s basketball falls to Santa Clara 61-52; looks ahead to the final games of the regular season

The Toreros are looking to finish the season strong heading into the WCC Championships.

By Edwin Blebu

USD men’s basketball team failed to earn a win on the road as they lost to the Santa Clara University Broncos on Feb. 14 by a score of 61-52. The Toreros are 4-9 when playing away from the Jenny Craig Pavilion this season.

Senior forward Ken Rancifer scored a team-high of 17 points while sophomore guard Johnny Dee added 15 points while grabbing a career-high eight rebounds. The Broncos were led by senior forward Marc Trasolini who recorded a double-double, tallying 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Toreros were down 14-2 before sophomore forward John Sinis checked into the game. Sinis provided the Toreros with immediate offense as he hit three three-pointers.

As Rancifer got into an offensive rhythm hitting three foul shots and a three pointer, the Toreros were able to come back to take a 25-23 lead going into halftime.

The early stages of the second half saw numerous lead changes, with the Toreros last lead of the game coming with 10 minutes remaining at 38-35. The Broncos took control of the game going up by as many as 11 points with less than three minutes remaining in the game before settling on the final deficit of nine points. With the loss to Santa Clara Broncos the Toreros fall to 13-14 overall and 6-6 in the West Coast Conference.

The Toreros will finish off their three game road trip with games against the University of Portland Pilots and the Gonzaga University Bulldogs before returning home for their final two regular season games against the University of San Francisco Dons and the Pepperdine University Waves.

The Toreros were 3-1 against these four teams the first time they played this season, with their only loss coming against the Bulldogs on Feb. 2. The games against the Pilots, Dons and Waves came early in the season during a five-game win streak. Since that streak, however, the Toreros are 2-6.

The Toreros are currently in fifth place in the WCC. If the standings remain the same through the end of the regular season, the Toreros’ will have to win four games in five days at the WCC Championships in Las Vegas in order to earn a bid to the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.

The Toreros last won the WCC Championship in 2008 when the event was held at USD’s Jenny Craig Pavilion. That year, the Toreros were the third seed in the tournament and only needed to win three games to win the title and the NCAA tournament berth.