Feb. 20, 2014
(San Diego, Calif.) - The USD Toreros earned a big 61-59 home win over the visiting Portland Pilots to improve their season mark to 15-14 and up their league record to 6-10 with two regular-season games to go. Johnny Dee and Duda Sanadze led the way with 15 points each, and for the second straight game the bench played a key role as they outscored Portland's reserves 26-2. With the win the Toreros swept the series against the Pilots and now will entertain Gonzaga this Saturday in a 9pm ESPN2 contest.
"It was a hard-fought win," said head coach Bill Grier. "It definitely wasn't a thing of beauty in terms of its aesthetic value, but it's February and there are a lot of games in a lot of leagues just exactly like this. Grinder type of games. Fortunately we made some plays down the stretch. That's something we haven't done. We were down four with about two and a half minutes to go and executed back-to-back possessions and got stops down the stretch when we needed them. I'm proud of our guys with sticking with it, especially after the start we got off to defensively. "
In the first half the Toreros got off to a slow start as they found themselves down 20-10 at the 12:51 mark. From there USD responded with a 14-3 run to take their first lead at 24-23 with 5:57 to go on two free throws from Duda Sanadze. Five different Toreros scored in the run led by Dee with 5 points. Dee and Christopher Anderson each had 8 points by the intermission break with the Toreros up 35-31.
In the second half both teams got off to slow starts with the first bucket coming from UP's Thomas van der Mars at 17:06. The score would stay 35-33 USD until a Dee three with 14:50 to go and then both teams improved offensively from there. Portland would regain the lead at 52-51 on a Ryan Nicholas jumper and extend it to four points (56-52) with 2:33 left in the game.
Two buckets from Sanadze and four straight made free throws from Dee gave the Toreros a 60-56 margin with 27 ticks left and from there the Toreros would hold on for the two-point victory. Anderson followed Dee and Sanadze in the scoring column with 9 points. Simi Fajemisin gave the Toreros some solid minutes as he chipped in with 5 points and 4 rebounds in 14 minutes of action.
Portland (15-12, 7-8 WCC), playing without leading scorer Kevin Bailey (calf), was paced by van der Mars (18 points) and guard Bobby Sharp (16 points).
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