USD Men's Basketball Season Ends in CIT Quarterfinal Round

Isaiah Pineiro, USD men's basketballThe USD men's basketball team lost to Northern Colorado, 86-75, in a CIT quarterfinal game Thursday, but the team has plenty to be proud of, including the fact it won 20 games in a season.

The University of San Diego men's basketball team saw their postseason run and the 2017-18 season come to an end in a hard-fought 86-75 loss to the Northern Colorado Bears in a Tournament quarterfinal game on Thursday night in the Jenny Craig Pavilion.


Acting head coach Sam Scholl and his staff directed the team to the quarterfinals of the CIT for the second time in program history, and the Toreros reached the 20-win plateau for just the fourth time in USD's Division I history, finishing 20-14. Northern Colorado's record improved to 24-12 with Thursday's win.

Isaiah Pineiro finished with a double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds, and Isaiah Wright scored 23 points to go with four assists and three steals. The visiting Bears, however, matched USD and came out just a little better. Guards Andre Spight (26 points) and Jordan Davis (21 points, 12 rebounds) were a handful all night and received a big boost off the bench from Anthony Johnson (20 points).

"The disappointment tonight comes from the fact that when we wake up tomorrow we don't get to practice," Scholl said. "We don't get to be together to go work towards something. This was such a fun group to be with and they made every day such a joy. They have so much to be proud of and this program's definitely moving in the right direction. This postseason run was such a great foundation for what we are calling a training camp for March 2019. Cameron (Neubauer, the lone USD senior) is a big loss but we have a lot of talent and a lot of character in that locker room. They have a great chance to do some special things next year."

In the first half the Toreros jumped out to a quick 11-3 lead with Pineiro scoring nine points. A Juwan Gray three gave USD its first 10-point cushion (14-4) and a driving lay-in by Wright pushed it to 16-6. A Gray lay-in made it 18-9 before the Bears answered with seven straight points capped off by a dunk from Kai Edwards to pull within 18-16. Alex Floresca ended the Bears’ run with just his fourth three-pointer of the season.

A steal and then assist from Wright to Gray increased USD's lead to 25-20 at the 10:22 mark. A three-pointer from the left corner from Wright and a thunderous left-handed dunk by Yauhen Massalski made it 31-24 with 6:10 left. UNC answered with a 6-0 run that was finished off by a lay-in from Spight for a slim 31-30 lead. Back-to-back buckets from Gray and Pineiro made it 36-32, but Chaz Glotta canned a three-pointer to make it a one-point game again. Floresca connected on a jumper from the top of the key to put the Toreros ahead 38-35 and Wright added a three from the right wing to push it to 41-35. A Pineiro jumper from the left elbow made it 43-38 with 26 seconds left and that score held up at halftime. Pineiro led all scorers at the break with 15 points.

In the second half, Pineiro picked up where he left off with a jumper. A three from Spight in the left corner and a lay-in from Davis knotted the score at 45-all to close out a 7-0 Bears run. A three from Wright was answered by a three-point play from Jordan Davis. UNC took a 50-48 lead on a lay-in from Davis on their next trip down the floor. USD’s Olin Carter ended an 8-0 run by the Bears with a three-pointer, but Spight answered with a three-pointer and lay-in to make it 58-51. A Jalen Sanders jumper capped off a UNC 15-3 run to make it 60-51 with 12:36 to go.

Two Pineiro free throws and a Wright lay-in pulled USD to within 60-55. Back-to-back buckets from Davis pushed the Bears’ lead to 66-57. Spight answered two free throws by Wright with a long three-pointer at the other end to make 69-59. USD quickly answered with buckets from Pineiro and Gray. Following two misses, Pineiro collected a steal and made a lay-up to make it 69-65 with 4:14 to go. Davis answered with a bucket to give UNC a six-point advantage, 71-65.

A Wright free throw and bank shot from Pineiro pulled USD to within 71-68. The Toreros got a defensive stop, but weren’t able to capitalize on their next trip down leading to a Bear timeout with 2:29 to go. The Bears then closed out the game on a 15-7 run to pull away. 

This year’s 20-win season was USD’s first since the 2007-08 team tallied 22 wins and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament as West Coast Conference Tournament champions. This year’s team went 9-9 in WCC play, a marked improvement over recent years. After losing to BYU in the WCC Tournament quarterfinals on March 3, the Toreros competed well in the CIT. USD won its first two games, defeating the University of Hartford, 88-72, on March 12, and then a 67-64 triumph over Portland State on a buzzer-beater three-pointer by Tyler Williams March 17. This year’s team only had one senior player, Cameron Neubauer, and should return much of the roster for USD’s coaching staff next season.

— USD Athletics

Ryan T. Blystone contributed to this story


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