Men’s basketball loses in 2nd round
Pepperdine ends USD’s season with a 50-47 victory
Men’s basketball suffers close loss in season finale in Las Vegas. Last Saturday, March 7, the USD Men’s Basketball team encountered a resilient Pepperdine University Waves squad in the West Coast Conference Tournament.
The WCC tournament, known for its unique location in Las Vegas’s Orleans Arena, has a distinct competitiveness in the atmosphere in comparison to other mid-major conference tournaments.
The Toreros, a five seed, faced the Waves, a four seed, in the quarterfinals. Jumping out to an 11-4 lead, San Diego looked to get the ball to senior guard Johnny Dee, their all-time leading scorer. Hustle play from redshirt senior Thomas Jacobs, and aggressiveness from freshman Vasa Pusica, helped the team to a first half lead of 24-18.
However, cold-spells, which have plagued the Toreros all season, proved to be the difference in the game as they allowed a 9-0 run, spear-headed by Pepperdine star Stacy Davis, to start the second half.
The two teams battled for the lead the whole second half, as neither was able to lead by more than three points the rest of the way. Big-man Brandon Perry was in foul trouble the whole game, taking him out of rhythm and affecting the interior play of the Toreros. Regardless, with about four seconds left, USD missed a game-winning fast-break floater and the ensuing put-back layup.
Pepperdine outlasted San Diego in a nail-biter ending with a score of 50-47.
The Toreros saw the season end with a record of 15-16, one game under .500. Season highlights include a thrilling overtime victory over the Brigham Young University Cougars, who face Gonzaga in the WCC finals, a dominant victory over a competitive Portland team on the road to close the season, and the crowning of a new scoring champion.
As the offseason begins, we are forced to say goodbye to two of the finest players that have ever worn a Torero uniform: Johnny Dee and Christopher Anderson. The two seniors have made their mark at USD both on and off the court as they are well known and respected around campus, and feared across the WCC for their one-two combo of range and speed.
Moving forward, a young USD team will likely see freshman players such as Vasa Pusica and Marcus Harris step into those vacated rolls. In addition to promising young talent, the Toreros will get big man Jito Kok back for his senior season.
Kok, one of the conference’s leading shot blockers, is a key presence in the paint for the Toreros. Moreover, redshirt sophomore Brandon Perry, who came on strong in the second half of the season, will be a compliment to Kok in the paint.
So Torero fans, although we are losing two shining stars for the upcoming season, the potential is there for a successful 2015-2016 season.
With Pepperdine, BYU, Portland, and Gonzaga on the rise, the Toreros will have their work cut out for them, but coach Bill Grier is undoubtedly up for the challenge of unifying this diverse, young team in years to come.