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Athletics Roundup: Basketball Needs March Momentum; Baseball, Softball, Tennis, Tidbits

Athletics Roundup: Basketball Needs March Momentum; Baseball, Softball, Tennis, Tidbits

Momentum means everything in March. It’s a lesson the USD men’s basketball team needs to learn as it prepares to enter the single-elimination West Coast Conference Tournament, starting March 7 in Las Vegas.

For the seventh time this season in WCC play, the men’s basketball team won one and then lost one this past week, thus a situation where it’s always back to square one. Beginning with USD’s first tournament game, an 8 p.m. tilt Thursday against Portland, consistency will need to be key. Due to their No. 7 seeding, USD has to win five games in six days if it wants to win the WCC Tournament title. Four wins in five days just to reach the final.

Last week, on the road against San Francisco and BYU, the ups and downs took their toll.

On Feb. 28, Olin Carter III's desperation shot well beyond the 3-point line went in at the buzzer and USD, behind Isaiah Pineiro scoring all nine of the team's points in the overtime, came away with a clutch 91-90 road victory against the University of San Francisco. Pineiro had 28 points and 11 rebounds and Isaiah Wright finished with 24 points.

Two days later, on March 2, USD was trailing host BYU by double-digits for most of the second half in the West Coast Conference regular-season finale for both teams. USD rallied to within six points with 2:22 left in the game. BYU, however, sank eight straight free throws in a 87-73 victory over USD. Wright led the team with 19 points and Pineiro had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Two games and split results for the Toreros (18-13 overall, 7-9 WCC) whose road to a postseason berth — will it be to the NCAA, NIT or otherwise? — is a toss-up.

The team heads to Las Vegas for the start of the WCC Tournament in Orleans Arena. This road is set for USD: Beat Portland, Santa Clara, BYU and Saint Mary's. The title game is Tuesday, March 12.

Next Game(s): WCC Tournament at Orleans Arena, Las Vegas: USD vs. Portland, Thursday, 8 p.m.; USD-Portland winner vs. Santa Clara, Friday, 8 p.m.; USD-Portland-Santa Clara winner vs. BYU, Saturday, 9 p.m.; USD-Portland-Santa Clara-BYU winner vs. Saint Mary's, March 11, 8:30 p.m.; WCC Tournament Championship game, March 12, 6 p.m.

Women's Basketball

The USD women's basketball team knew their season would continue to this week's West Coast Conference Tournament regardless of the results of the final two WCC regular-season games. But ending it inside the Jenny Craig Pavilion meant a lot.

On Feb. 28, despite a 77-68 loss to Santa Clara, Madison Pollock scored a career-high 27 points, Patricia Brossmann had her 10th double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Kiera Oakry had 10 points to lead USD.

The game also marked the team's annual Pink Game, a chance to honor cancer survivors and take donations for Play 4 Kay. Tickets were only $1 and fans were encouraged to make a donation to support cancer research.

Then, on March 2, USD's home finale was Senior Day for Sydney Shepard, the team's lone senior. After honoring her with family at her side before the game, the Toreros went out and did something they'd not done since the calendar turned to 2019 — USD won.

Sydney Hunter scored a career-high 21 points to lead USD to the 66-59 victory over the University of San Francisco. Leticia Soares added 12 points and Pollock had 11. Brossmann and Shepard each had eight points. Both Brossmann and Hunter had seven rebounds.

The win snapped USD's 15-game losing streak and improved its record to 9-20 overall, 2-16 in the WCC. USD's last win was on Dec. 31, 2018 at Santa Clara. Oddly enough, USD and Santa Clara, after splitting their two WCC regular-season games, will meet in Thursday's opening round of the WCC Tournament at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Tipoff is 2 p.m. It is unclear if the Toreros will have any players who've missed much of the season to injury back in time for the tournament.

Next Game(s): WCC Tournament at Orleans Arena, Las Vegas: USD vs. Santa Clara, Thursday, 2 p.m.; USD-Santa Clara winner vs. Pacific, Friday, 2 p.m.; USD-Santa Clara-Pacific winner vs. Pepperdine, Saturday, 3 p.m.; USD-Santa Clara-Pepperdine winner vs. BYU, March 11, 2 p.m.; WCC Tournament Championship game, March 12, 1 p.m.

Men's Tennis

The USD men's tennis team rebounded from a tough recent loss at Arizona State with a determined spirit this week. The results were a 2-0 week with a solid 4-3 home win over Oklahoma State on Feb. 27 and then, on March 3, the Toreros' march to supremacy in the West Coast Conference standings continued with a 4-0 sweep of Saint Mary's, also at USD's Skip and Cindy Hogan Tennis Center.

Against Oklahoma State, ranked 32nd nationally, it came down to USD's top player, sophomore August Holmgren winning a three-set singles match to clinch the victory.

Oklahoma State had taken the doubles point to put USD on its heels, but Joel Gamerov and Gui Osorio won their singles matches for a 2-1 USD lead. Oklahoma State tied it, but Nico Borter put USD within one singles win of taking the match. A three-set victory at No. 6 position for Oklahoma State turned all eyes to Holmgren's match at No. 1 with OSU's Matej Vocel. Holmgren lost the first set 6-4, but won 7-6 (8-6) to force the third set. Holmgren won 6-4 to secure the big win for USD, which is ranked 35th.

From there, USD could just focus on its WCC match with Saint Mary's. The doubles teams of Osorio-Borter and David Norfeldt-Guus Koevermans won their matches for the doubles point. In singles, Koevermans, Garrett Kurtz and Osorio made quick work of their Saint Mary's foes to give USD the victory and remain undefeated in WCC play at 3-0. The Toreros have an 8-3 overall record.

Next Matches: USD at Washington, Thursday, 5 p.m., Seattle; USD at Gonzaga, Saturday, noon.

Baseball

Three games, each with a big moment or two, resulted in three consecutive wins this past week for USD baseball with the final game of a three-game home series against St. John's University tonight still to come.

USD started the week the right way with a four-run eighth inning on Feb. 26 at San Diego State for a 4-2 win in the crosstown rivals' first meeting of the season. The game was scoreless for seven innings until the Toreros used an Adam Lopez RBI double, Lopez then scoring on a fielder's choice and wild throw, followed by Tora Otsuka scoring on a balk and Shane McGuire scored on another error by the Aztecs. SDSU scored its two runs in the bottom of the eighth, but USD was able to hold on for the victory.

Against St. John's, rain forced a schedule shift in the series. USD won the March 1 game, 9-3, thanks to scoring seven runs in the final three innings. Key offensive contributors were Cody Jefferis (3-for-4, double, RBI, walk) and Jeff Houghtby had a hit and two RBI. Due to rain Saturday, that game was moved to Monday (today) and Sunday's game was played as scheduled. The teams were deadlocked at 1. USD's Houghtby hit a solo home run in the third inning and St. John's tied it with a run in the sixth. In the bottom of the 10th, McGuire singled to left to drive in Adam Kerner, who had doubled and went to third on a flyout for the 2-1 win. Pitching wise, starter Chris Murphy went seven innings, allowing four hits, the one run and had nine strikeouts. USD is now 8-3 on the season.

Next Games: USD hosts St. John's, Monday, 5 p.m., Fowler Park (postponed game); USD at UC Riverside, Tuesday, 6 p.m., Riverside; USD at Seattle Baseball Showcase, March 8-10: USD vs. Coastal Carolina, Friday, 11 a.m.; USD vs. Minnesota, Saturday, 11 a.m.; USD vs. Indiana, Sunday, 11 a.m.

Softball

Although rain hampered this past Saturday's action for USD softball in the San Diego Classic, the team went 2-2 with two games each on Friday and Sunday.

Friday saw USD win both of its games, a 4-1 decision over Weber State and then a 5-1 win over Florida Gulf Coast, behind strong pitching performances. Delaney Heller got three runs from USD's offense in the second inning and she threw a seven-inning complete game, allowing five hits and the one run in the seventh, striking out three against Weber State. In the second game, the win over FGC, Madison Earnshaw was the USD pitcher who benefitted from the offense as USD built a 4-1 lead after two innings and added the final run in the fourth. Earnshaw pitched a complete game, allowing four hits and striking out eight.

Sunday was a tough day for the Toreros (7-11), who lost both games by one run. Florida Gulf Coast avenged Friday's loss with a 6-5 defeat of USD in the early game and UC Davis topped USD, 2-1 in the evening game.

Against FGC, USD led 5-3 with a four-run fourth inning that included a two-run double by Sara Silveyra, but FGC scored three runs in the sixth inning, keyed by a two-run double, and held on for the victory. USD used three pitchers, starter Heller (1 1/3 innings, five hits, three runs and two strikeouts), Halle Kyler (4 1/3 innings of relief, seven hits, three earned runs and three strikeouts) and Earnshaw finished up. Against Davis, the Toreros were down 2-0 when they scored a run in the bottom of the fourth on Bella Vick's single that scored pinch-runner Savannah Shields. Hannah Boos pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits and striking out three.   

Next Games: USD at UNLV, Thursday, 1 p.m., Las Vegas, Nev.; USD at UC Riverside Tournament, March 8-10: USD vs. Nebraska-Omaha, Friday, 9 a.m.; USD vs. Nebraska-Omaha, Saturday, 9 a.m.; USD vs. Houston, Saturday, 11:30 a.m.; USD at UC Riverside, Sunday, 2 p.m.

Women's Tennis

The USD women's tennis team rescheduled a previously rained out nonconference meeting against host Long Beach State and made the most of it. The Toreros took a hard-earned 4-3 victory to knock the 49ers from the undefeated ranks on Feb. 28.

The Toreros won the doubles point as the teams of Gemma Garcia-Kati Kukaras and Maria-Paula Torres-Solymar Colling were victorious. In singles play, Colling won at No. 1 position, but Long Beach won the next two matches to tie the match at 2. Garcia and Torres then won their matches at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, to close out the win. Torres' clinching win was a 7-5, 7-6 (4) decision.

USD's record improved to 5-2 while Long Beach suffered its first loss in seven spring matches.

Next Matches: USD hosts Middle Tennessee, Wednesday, 11 a.m., Skip and Cindy Hogan Tennis Center (on campus, behind USD's Mother Rosalie Hill Hall); USD at UNLV, Saturday, 11 a.m., Las Vegas; USD vs. Michigan State, Sunday, 1:30 p.m., Las Vegas.

Torero Tidbits

The men's golf team resumes its season after a week off to play in the San Diego State -hosted Lamkin San Diego Classic today and Tuesday at the San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista. ... The USD men's rowing season opens this Saturday as it will compete in the San Diego City Championships ... The USD women's rowing team hosted the University of Minnesota on March 1 for scrimmage races at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center on Otay Lake. The teams competed in two 2,000-meter races and additional 250-meter starts. The next scheduled racing for the Toreros is a tri-meet with WCC foes Loyola Marymount and Gonzaga, March 14-16 in San Diego. ... USD women's track season opens March 16 at the Ross and Sharon Irwin Collegiate Meet in Point Loma.

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