Feb. 7, 2013
(San Diego, Calif.) - The USD Toreros earned a big 74-68 victory over the BYU Cougars tonight in front of 3,296 fans at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. The win improves USD's overall mark to 13-12, and more importantly, moves their WCC mark to 6-4, good for sole 4th place in the nine-team conference. Johnny Dee played 36 minutes and scored a team-best 19 points for the Toreros despite having sprained his left ankle just three nights ago in the team's overtime win at LMU. Senior Ken Rancifer chipped in with 16 points while dishing out a career-high 6 assists. This was USD's first win against BYU in seven tries.
"It's a big win for us," said Dee. "This win is big for us going into Saturday against Saint Mary's. We didn't give them our best effort last time, and we are looking forward to giving them a better effort this time." Asked about how his ankle felt, he added, "It was feeling pretty good. A lot of prayer and the great athletic training staff (Carolyn Greer and Dr. Murphy) here helped me out. I'm thankful for that. I've been in the weight room and doing rehab in the training room all day yesterday and again today, it was pretty good tonight."
Despite this being USD's third game in six days, the Toreros (13-12, 6-4 WCC) are playing some of their best basketball of the season. Following a tough 2-point loss to #7 Gonzaga on Saturday, the Toreros have responded with back-to-back league wins over LMU and BYU. Senior Chris Manresa notched a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, and junior Dennis Kramer turned in one of his best performances with 8 points and a season-high 10 rebounds.
"It was a great effort by our guys," said head coach Bill Grier. "It's been a real tough stretch these past six days. We were a little lethargic early, then we finally started playing with more energy and more toughness. I thought the way we just approached the glass tonight was key. We were aggressive, we fought for rebounds, and to outrebound them is quite an accomplishment. They've really hurt us on the glass everytime we've played them. To me this is a huge win for this group, biggest win this group has had in awhile. I look at BYU as one of the big three in our league but also one of the better programs in the country. For us this is a huge huge win. For Dennis (Kramer) to have ten rebounds tonight is huge for him. And Dee is as tough as young man as I've been around in my career. I think a lot of guys on this team would be out for a couple weeks with that injury."
The Toreros had their hands full all evening with the Cougar tandem of guard Tyler Haws (27 points) and forward Brandon Davies (20 points, 10 rebounds). In the first half BYU (18-7, 8-3 WCC) built an early 16-8 lead with 13:50 to go before the Toreros got untracked and were able to take a 40-36 intermission lead. At the break Manresa had 10 points and 6 rebounds for the Toreros while Dee had 8 points.
In the second half the Toreros were able to extend their lead to as many as 11 points twice, the last coming at 56-45 on a Rancifer three-pointer with 12:25 to go. BYU showed why they have won 25 or more games in each of the last five seasons when they stormed back to pull within two at 64-62 on an old-fashioned three-point play by Haws. Twenty-two seconds later Dee answered with a three from beyond the arc and the Toreros were able to steady the ship some. Haws hit a three with 13 ticks left to get within 71-68, but Dee closed out the game by making 3-of-4 free throws.
A key stat for the Toreros was outrebounding the Cougars 41-34. USD also finished the game shooting 50% overall (28-56) with 16 assists for the 28 buckets. The Toreros also held BYU to 41.9% shooting (26-62) and just 27.8% from beyond the three-point line (5-18).
The Toreros return to the JCP this Saturday, Feb. 9th, for their fourth game in eight days. The Toreros will host the Saint Mary's Gaels in an 8:05 p.m. contest that will be televised on ESPNU. The Gaels dealt the Santa Clara Broncos an 84-63 setback tonight at Santa Clara. The Gaels will come to San Diego with a 20-4 record and 9-1 WCC mark. Santa Clara drops into 5th place behind the Toreros with a 5-5 record and 17-8 overall mark.