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Athletics Roundup: Men's Basketball Struggles; Baseball Sweeps; Tennis, Softball, Golf

Athletics Roundup: Men's Basketball Struggles; Baseball Sweeps; Tennis, Softball, Golf

"Our backs are against the wall." It's an old cliché, but both USD men's basketball head coach Sam Scholl and his top player, Isaiah Pineiro, mentioned it as the scenario the Toreros are faced with after a very difficult week of West Coast Conference games played at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Opening a critical four-game homestand, USD fell to BYU 88-82 in overtime on Feb. 14 and two nights later, in front of an energetic sold-out JCP crowd, Gonzaga, the No. 3-ranked team in the nation, used a second-half surge after a 30-30 halftime deadlock to beat USD, 79-67.

The losses put the onus on the Toreros to win their four remaining WCC games to build momentum and improve seeding position before March’s conference tournament. The Toreros (16-11 overall, 5-7 WCC) have now lost three in a row, the team's longest slump this season.

Against BYU, USD led much of the game and had a 14-point lead with 16 minutes to play. But a 20-7 BYU run cut USD's lead to one with 9:48 left. BYU took its first lead of the game with 3:50 left. BYU led 74-73, added a free throw and it came down to Isaiah Wright's layup with two seconds left to send it to overtime. BYU outscored USD 13-7 in the five-minute extra period.

Olin Carter III and Pineiro both scored 20 points to lead the Toreros. Pineiro also had 12 rebounds for his 11th double-double this season. Yauhen Massalski had 13 points, Alex Floresca had 12 and Tyler Williams added nine.

Against Gonzaga, USD's effectiveness in taking time off the clock on its offensive possessions in the first half played a big role. Carter, playing his fourth game back after an abdomen injury and his first against Gonzaga this season, scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half. Pineiro, meanwhile, had early foul trouble and only scored two of his eventual 20 points in the opening half. Williams finished with 12 points — all on 3-pointers. Wright had nine points and both he and Williams had four assists.

Gonzaga, on the strength of making 20 of 29 field-goal attempts in the second half, never looked back. The Zags had four players score in double figures — Rui Hachimura with 22 points (10 rebounds), Zach Norvell Jr. with 18 points, Josh Perkins had 15 and Brandon Clarke had 14.

Next Games: USD hosts Portland, Thursday, 7 p.m., Jenny Craig Pavilion; USD hosts Saint Mary's, Saturday, 6 p.m., JCP.

Baseball

It was a successful opening weekend for USD baseball with a three-game series sweep of Wagner from Staten Island, N.Y., at Fowler Park. The teams played three games in two days, making Saturday a doubleheader day instead of one game each day of the weekend due to heavy winds and rain on Sunday.

The Toreros won the opener 14-0 and took the doubleheader with a 15-9 triumph early and a 3-1 victory in the nightcap. USD's offense was on point with 16 hits on Friday, 15 hits in the first game Saturday and eight more in the finale.

Big hitters during the weekend: On Friday, Ripken Reyes had two hits, including a triple, and drove in three runs, Shane McGuire and Chris McCready each drove in two runs, Cody Jefferis had three hits, drove in one and scored twice and Adam Kerner and Max Jung-Goldberg each had two hits; In the early game Saturday, Reyes had four RBI, Jefferis had two hits and drove in three and Paul Kunst hit a two-run home run; Tora Otsuka drove in all three USD runs in the late game Saturday with a single, double and a home run.

Pitching-wise, starter Chris Murphy went five innings, struck out six and walked five on Friday. Relievers Jake Miller, Cade Brown and Nicola Mislinski combined for six strikeouts and retired 11 consecutive batters down the stretch. Early Saturday, starter Grady Miller went five innings, followed by Noah Owen and Nigel Ward. In the second game, Josh Hendrickson allowed five hits in six innings with five strikeouts and Nate Walker and Travis Kuhn closed it out. 

Next Games: USD at Long Beach State, Tuesday, 6 p.m., Blair Field (near LBSU campus); USD at Arizona State, Wednesday, 6 p.m., Tempe, Ariz.; USD co-hosts Tony Gwynn Legacy Tournament: USD vs. Oklahoma, Friday, 6 p.m., Fowler Park; USD vs. Missouri State, Saturday, 6 p.m., Fowler Park; USD vs. Utah, Sunday, 2 p.m., Fowler Park.

Men's Tennis

Playing only one match last week, the USD men's tennis team improved its record to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the West Coast Conference after a 5-2 triumph over the University of San Francisco at USD's Skip and Cindy Hogan Tennis Center on Feb. 16.

The Toreros won their sixth doubles point in seven matches as the No. 1 team of Nico Borter and Gui Osorio and No. 2 Guus Koevermans and David Norfeldt won their matches. The early advantage was followed by singles victories, in order of finish, by August Holmgren, Norfeldt, Noah Dufort and Osorio to gain the WCC win.

Next Matches: USD hosts University North Carolina-Wilmington, Friday, noon, Skip and Cindy Hogan Tennis Center, noon; USD at Arizona State, Sunday, 2 p.m., Tempe, Ariz.

Women's Tennis

The USD women's tennis team travelled to Eugene, Ore., to compete in a pair of nonconference matches hosted by the University of Oregon on Feb. 15 and 16. USD earned a split decision, winning 4-0 against Montana on Friday and then falling to host Oregon 5-2 on Saturday.

Against Montana, the Toreros claimed the doubles point thanks to wins by its No. 3 team of Gemma Garcia and Kati Kukaras and the No. 2 team of Daniela Morales and Sophia Chow. In singles play, No. 5 Maria-Paula Torres, No. 3 Kukaras and No. 1 Solymar Colling each had strong showings to claim the sweep victory.

In the loss to Oregon, USD (2-2) still started strong as it won the doubles point for its third consecutive match. Garcia and Kukaras won at the third doubles position and the team of Colling and Torres at the No. 1 spot clinched the doubles point. Oregon, however, won five of six singles matches to claim the win. USD's Chow won her match first among all six singles to give USD a 2-0 lead before Oregon's rally.

Next Matches: USD hosts Hawaii, Tuesday, 1 p.m., Skip and Cindy Hogan Tennis Center; USD hosts San Diego State, Saturday, 11 a.m., Hogan Tennis Center.

Softball

The USD softball team travelled to Tempe, Ariz., to participate in Arizona State University's annual early-season tournament. The end result for the five games played in three days was an 0-5 mark and four games didn't go seven innings.

USD lost to Utah State 12-1 in five innings on Feb. 15, lost 10-8 to Central Michigan and 12-4 (five innings) to No. 4 nationally ranked Florida in a pair of morning games on Feb. 16 and then concluded Feb. 17 with an 8-0 loss to Illinois State in five innings and then a six-inning 12-3 loss to No. 14/7 ranked Arizona State.

There were bright spots in each game. In the opener against Utah State, Rion Simms had an RBI hit to drive in Madison Casiano; Against Central Michigan, USD collected nine hits, including a grand slam by Shelbi Evans in the seventh inning and a two-run triple by Taylor Spence; Sophia Bjerk and Lindsay Clare each hit home runs in the loss to Florida; Casiano had two of USD's three hits in the loss to Illinois State; and Casiano drove in all three runs on two doubles and a single against Arizona State. 

Next Games: USD hosts Southern Utah, Saturday, doubleheader at noon and 2 p.m., USD Softball Complex; USD hosts Southern Utah, Sunday, noon, USD Softball Complex.

Women's Basketball

The USD women's basketball team suffered another two losses this past week on a Pacific Northwest road trip to Gonzaga and Portland and has now lost 13 straight games and has lost 14 of 15 in West Coast Conference play.

Nevertheless, in a trying season filled with injuries that have limited the roster to as few as seven players at times, Head Coach Cindy Fisher has been getting solid efforts from multiple players all season long.

In a 71-44 loss at Gonzaga on Feb. 14, Leticia Soares led the eight-player Toreros roster with 10 points and Madison Pollock had eight points and 10 rebounds. Gonzaga led 42-12 at halftime of this game, but USD outscored Gonzaga 32-29 in the second half.

Two days later against Portland, USD had only seven players get in the game, but it took a strong third quarter by Portland to secure a 96-74 Pilots victory. The teams were tied at 42 at halftime, but Portland outscored USD 33-12 in the third quarter. USD's Soares led with 23 points highlighted by 9-of-12 field goal shooting. Sydney Hunter had 12 points and Pollock and Sydney Shepard each had 11 points. Patricia Brossmann added nine points and eight rebounds for USD (8-18, 1-14 WCC). 

Next Game: USD at BYU, Saturday, 1 p.m., Provo, Utah

Golf

The USD men's golf team opened the spring portion of its season by hosting The Farms Invitational at the Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. - based The Farms Golf Club on Feb. 11 and 12.

It was the first competition for USD since Oct. 30, 2018 and it showed a bit early on in the three-round, two-day event. USD finished ninth out of 10 teams in the tournament, shooting team rounds of 322, 317 and 317 for a 956 total. Cal-Berkeley won the tournament with a 21-under-par total of 843 (283-286-274). Loyola Marymount was second, albeit 36 shots back, with an 879 total. Cal's Collin Morikawa was the top individual, finishing 13-under-par (67-71-65 - 203).

The top Torero golfer was George Gardner, who had rounds of 80-77-75 for a 15-over-par total of 232 and tie for 42nd place. Rounding out USD's top three were Yash Majmudar (tie for 47th, 20-over, 78-80-78 - 236) and Camilo Mexsen (55th, 28-over, 79-81-84 - 244).

Next Tournament: USD at Wyoming Desert Classic, Thursday-Saturday, Palm Desert, Calif.

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