SAN DIEGO -- Junior captain Olin Carter III buried seven three-pointers on his way to a season-high 27 points as the Toreros held off a pesky Pepperdine squad 74-66 in front of 1,521 fans at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. The win boosted USD's record to a program-best 11-3 start in the Division I era, and more importantly to 2-0 in the WCC standings.
"Today our team depth shined through with Isaiah Pineiro fouling out with nine minutes to go," said head coach Lamont Smith. "Juwan Gray had a big game with 11 points and 11 rebounds off the bench and that is what depth does for you. I wasn't particularly happy with the way we played today but I thought we closed out the first half on a good note. And we expect Olin to make big shots for us and today he had to carry us. Credit Pepperdine. Marty Wilson had his team ready to play and they did a good job against us. Despite not having our best game I was pleased to come out of here with a victory."
— USD Men's Basketball (@usdmbb) December 30, 2017
Carter III scored a season-high 27 points in the victory.
In the first half the visiting Waves opened up with a 4-0 lead before Olin Carter III heated up and drained four consecutive three-pointers in helping the Toreros build a 14-6 advantage with 16:51 to go. USD's fifth trey, this time from Tyler Williams, followed by a jumper from Williams would push USD's lead to 21-12. USD would own its second nine point cushion at 24-15 following a free throw from Yauhen Massalski.
The Waves would storm back with a 9-2 run to get within 26-24 at 5:56 following a lay-in from Eric Cooper. A Juwan Gray lay-in and Cameron Neubauer three-ball would get it back to 31-24 and USD would head into the halftime break with a 38-30 advantage. Isaiah Wright connected on an important three-ball with 28 ticks left to give the Toreros the eight point cushion. Carter would lead all scorers at the break with 14 points while the Waves were paced by freshman guard Colbey Ross (11 points).
After the break Carter opened the second half like he did in the first with a three-pointer from the top of the key to make it 41-30. From there the Waves chipped away at the lead and an inside bucket by Nolan Taylor got the Waves within three at 50-47 and Darnell Dunn connected on two free throws to make it 50-49 with 10:28 left in the game. That closed out a 20-9 run by Pepperdine. Two free throws from Wright and a Carter jumper would push USD's lead back to seven at 56-49, but Eric Cooper would answer with a three-pointer to get it back to a four point game.
Carter's sixth trey would make it 61-55, but Cooper would answer with his third three-pointer to make it 61-58 with 4:17 left. Tyler Williams would convert a driving lay-up but Ross would bomb in a three-ball to make it 63-61 with 2:34 to go. Two Wright free throws made it 65-61 and the Toreros got the ball back following a Pepperdine offensive charge. Carter buried his seventh three-pointer from the left corner to make it 68-61 with 1:29 left. Two Williams' free throws capped off a 7-0 run for the Toreros to extend their lead to 70-61 with 1:15 to go. A trey by Kaijae Yee-Stephens would make it 71-66 with 18 seconds left but Juwan Gray would close out the scoring with a free throw and inside bucket.
For the game USD converted 11 three-pointers on 28 attempts and were a solid 17-21 from the free throw line. Isaiah Wright (13 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds), Juwan Gray (11 points, 11 rebounds) and Tyler Williams (11 points) followed Carter in double-digit scoring. USD also collected 10 blocked shots (one off the school record) and totaled 19 blocks for the two WCC victories. Pepperdine (3-11, 0-2 WCC) was paced by freshman guard Colbey Ross with 16 points.
The Toreros now hit the road for three straight WCC contests beginning with Portland this coming Thursday, January 4th, in a 7:00 p.m. contest at the Chiles Events Center.
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