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Athletics Roundup: Men's Basketball in WCC Semifinals Tonight; Spring Sports Recap

Athletics Roundup: Men's Basketball in WCC Semifinals Tonight; Spring Sports Recap

Momentum in March is what the USD men's basketball team sought going into the West Coast Conference Tournament, knowing it would need to win three games in three days just to reach the semifinals.

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As a result of wins over Portland, Santa Clara and BYU last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, respectively, USD (21-13) will play Saint Mary's tonight at 8:30 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas with a berth in the WCC Tournament title game on March 12 at stake. Gonzaga and Pepperdine will meet earlier in tonight's other semifinal.

USD beat Portland 67-47 on March 7 with five players scoring in double figures, including Isaiah Pineiro getting another double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Isaiah Wright and Olin Carter III both had 13 points while Tyler Williams and Alex Floresca each chipped in 11.

The next night’s game featured one of USD's best defensive efforts and Wright's 23 points helped the Toreros to a 62-45 win over Santa Clara. USD led 25-16 at halftime and rolled from there. Pineiro scored 15 and grabbed nine rebounds. Williams scored nine, Carter III had eight. Given the schedule, as soon as USD was up comfortably in the second half, Coach Sam Scholl was able to get more players into the game and rest his starters.

But the biggest win of the tournament so far for USD came against BYU, 80-57, on March 9. Losing both WCC regular-season games was tough — an overtime loss at the Jenny Craig Pavilion after leading by a lot and then, just a week ago on March 2, an 87-73 road loss — but the Toreros were primed for this one.

USD scored the game's first 13 points and the rout was on. It was 46-19 at halftime. Pineiro led the Toreros with 27 points and 12 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season. At one point, he had as many points as BYU did (25). Finn Sullivan came off the bench and scored 17 while Wright scored 15.

The victory over BYU gave USD its 21st win of the season (21-13) with at least another game to play in Las Vegas. It will be the first time the Toreros are playing in the tournament semifinal since 2013. USD last won the WCC Tournament title in 2008 when it was played at the JCP.

Next Games: USD vs. St. Mary's, tonight, 8:30 p.m., Orleans Arena, Las Vegas (TV: ESPN 2, Radio: 1090 AM); USD-St. Mary's winner vs. Gonzaga-Pepperdine winner in WCC Tournament Championship Game, Tuesday, 6 p.m., Orleans Arena, Las Vegas.

Baseball

Coach Rich Hill's team played five games in two states this past week and came away with four victories, including a three-game sweep at the Seattle Baseball Showcase, and a record-setting runs scored day for the program when USD went to UC Riverside and put together 25 hits in a 31-3 romp.

After closing out an early March weekend series with St. John's at Fowler Park with a 7-5 loss on Monday, the Toreros went to Riverside. The Toreros batted around four times, Jeff Houghtby was 4 for 4 with a double and three RBI, Caleb Ricketts was 3-for-5 with five RBI and three runs scored and Cody Jefferis was also 3-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBI. Tora Otsuka was 3-for-6 with four RBI and two runs scored. Riverside contributed mightily, issuing 13 walks and committing five errors.

USD then went to Seattle's T-Mobile Park (home of the Seattle Mariners) and defeated Coastal Carolina, Minnesota and Indiana on consecutive days.

The Toreros beat Coastal Carolina 8-5 on March 8 with a six-run eighth inning in a time-limit game that saw the teams only play eight innings. The key hit was a bases-loaded triple by Otsuka. 

The next day, another time-limit shortened game went eight innings, too, with USD winning 6-5. Trailing 5-4, USD was able to load the bases and Jefferis and Shane McGuire both drew eighth-inning walks for the walk-off win.

On the final day against Indiana, USD finally played a nine-inning game and completed the weekend sweep with a 5-3 win. USD led 3-0 in the first inning and scored a run in both the sixth and ninth. The bigger story was relief pitcher Travis Kuhn. He came on to pitch four perfect innings, retiring 12 batters in a row, including 10 strikeouts.

Next Games: USD hosts TCU, Tuesday, 6 p.m., Fowler Park; USD hosts Pepperdine, Friday, 6 p.m., Saturday, 4:30 p.m., Sunday, 1 p.m., Fowler Park.

Women's Tennis

A solid week for the USD women's tennis team, ranked No. 42 in the nation, consisted of three nonconference victories to extend its win streak to six matches. It started at USD's Skip and Cindy Hogan Tennis Center with a 6-1 triumph at home against Middle Tennessee on March 6. The team then traveled to Las Vegas and beat UNLV 4-3 on March 9 and finished off the week with a 6-1 win over Michigan State in Las Vegas on March 10.

Against Middle Tennessee, USD won the doubles point on wins by Maria Tyrina-Daniela Morales and Gemma Garcia-Kati Kukaras. In singles play, Solymar Colling, Maria-Paula Torres and Garcia triumphed to win the match. Morales and Kukaras also won their singles matches.

In Las Vegas, with extra USD fans in attendance due to the WCC Basketball Tournament happening in the same city, the Toreros edged UNLV on Saturday. Again, the Toreros took the doubles point on wins by Colling-Torres and Tyrina-Morales. In singles, Tyrina at No. 6 gave USD a 2-0 lead, Torres' win at the No. 5 spot made it 3-1, but UNLV won to get it within 3-2 before Garcia's three-set victory propelled USD.

On Sunday, the Toreros got a dominating win over Michigan State to improve its overall record to 8-2 with conference play in the not-to-distant future.

USD for the third straight match, won the doubles point, this time winning the last two matches by Tyrina-Morales and Garcia-Kukaras. In singles, Michigan State tied the team score at 1-1, but Colling, Kukaras and Garcia won to clinch the match.

Next Matches: USD hosts Yale, Saturday, 1:30 p.m., USD's Skip and Cindy Hogan Tennis Center.

Men's Tennis

The USD men's tennis team, ranked 27th in the nation, extended its win streak to four matches following a two-win road trip in the state of Washington, defeating Washington in Seattle, 4-2, on March 7 and then remaining undefeated in West Coast Conference play with a 4-2 win over Gonzaga in Spokane on March 9.

The Toreros dropped the doubles point against Washington, but rallied from a 2-0 deficit with singles victories by Guus Koevermans, Gui Osorio, August Holmgren and Joel Gamerov to eke out the win over the Huskies.

The match-up with Gonzaga was a good conference test. The Toreros (10-3 overall, 4-0 WCC) were able to win the doubles point on the strength of victories by Holmgren-Gamerov and David Norfeldt-Koevermans. In singles play, Gonzaga evened the team score at 1-1 when Holmgren lost at No. 2 position and the teams exchanged singles wins to make it 2-2 but Koevermans and Nico Borter secured the victory with their triumphs at No. 6 and No. 3, respectively. Osorio won at No. 1 position.

Next Matches: USD at San Diego State, Saturday, noon; USD hosts its Spring Invitational Tournament, March 22-24.

Softball

The USD softball team played five games in four days and in two states this past week, winning twice against Nebraska-Omaha and losing games at UNLV and against Houston and UC Riverside to send their record to 9-14 overall.

The game at UNLV was an 11-0 five-inning loss on March 7. USD was limited to three hits and starting pitcher Madison Earnshaw only went 1 2/3 innings, giving up six hits and four runs.

USD then competed in the UC Riverside tournament and promptly beat Omaha twice, a 10-0 five-inning win on March 8, and then a 2-1 victory on March 9.

In Friday's game, Sara Silveyra hit a home run and she and Shelbi Evans each had two RBI. Taylor Spence walked twice and scored three runs, including two on wild pitches. Delaney Heller pitched all five innings, allowing five hits and striking out five.

Saturday morning's win over Omaha consisted of a two-run homer by Hayley Hensley in the sixth inning and Halle Kyler pitched a complete game three-hitter, allowing the run and striking out three.

In the two weekend losses, USD dropped a 6-5 eight-inning decision to Houston after leading 5-0. Sophia Bjerk was USD's top hitter with a home run and three RBI. Houston tied it up with four runs in the sixth inning and pushed the game-winning run over in the extra inning. The Toreros then lost 3-2 to tournament host UC Riverside. The Highlanders scored all of their runs in the third inning while both of USD's runs came in the fourth on a homer by Silveyra and an RBI single by Bjerk.

Next Games: USD hosts Cal State Bakersfield, Saturday (doubleheader), noon and 2 p.m., Sunday, noon, all games at the USD Softball Complex.

Women's Basketball

The USD women's basketball team’s season came to an end on March 7 in the opening round of the West Coast Conference Tournament after a 63-59 defeat to Santa Clara at Las Vegas' Orleans Arena.

USD led for much of the game until a 15-1 run by Santa Clara at the end of the third quarter propelled the Broncos.

Patricia Brossmann, Leticia Soares and Madison Pollock each scored in double figures. Brossmann had 14 points and eight rebounds, Soares had 13 and eight and Pollock had 12 points and four assists.

The Toreros, who played much of the season with a seven-player roster due to the loss of six players to injury, competed well throughout the season for head coach Cindy Fisher. The loss was disappointing in that USD had split its two WCC regular-season games with Santa Clara.

The loss gave USD a 9-21 overall mark (USD was 2-16 in WCC play). The team did only lose one senior, Sydney Shepard, to graduation. Four starters will return next season.

Rowing (Men and Women)

The USD men's crew team competed with UC San Diego in the annual City Championships meet head-to-head at Mission Bay. San Diego State did not race this year. UC San Diego claimed two of the three races — varsity eight, second varsity eight and freshman eight — between the teams and they were deadlocked in the third race.

USD's next opportunity to compete against UCSD will be at the Tritons' Invitational, March 30-31.

In women's rowing, USD will compete in races against Loyola Marymount and Gonzaga this Thursday, Friday and Saturday in San Diego. It will be the final scheduled meet for USD until the San Diego Crew Classic, April 6-7.

In other news, 2001 USD alumna Alison Cox, a 2004 silver Olympic medalist and a three-time All-West Coast Conference rower became the first USD rower to be named to the WCC's Hall of Honor on March 9. Cox was among 10 inductees honored at the ceremony, held in Las Vegas in conjunction with the WCC Basketball Tournament taking place at The Orleans.

Golf

The USD men's golf team returns to action locally today and Tuesday when it competes in the San Diego State-hosted Lamkin San Diego Classic at the San Diego Country Club course in Chula Vista. It will be the team's first tournament since Feb. 22-24.

Next Tournaments: USD plays in the Lamkin San Diego Classic, Today and Tuesday, San Diego C.C.; USD at the University of Arizona's National Invitational Tournament, March 18-19, Tucson National Golf Club. 

Get All USD Athletics Updates

Keep up with all USD Athletics news, scores and information at its website. Follow the Toreros on social media: FacebookTwitter and Instagram. See videos on its YouTube channel.

Men's Basketball player Isaiah Pineiro shouts out his joy during USD's big 80-57 WCC Tournament victory against BYU on March 9. Photo by Kyle Terrada.Men's Basketball player Isaiah Pineiro shouts out his joy during USD's big 80-57 WCC Tournament victory against BYU on March 9. Photo by Kyle Terrada.

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