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WCC Men's Basketball Recaps

Feb. 16, 2008

San Diego - 78
Portland - 61

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Freshman forward Luke Sikma scored a career-high 17 points, but the Portland Pilots couldn't overcome a slow start in a 78-61 loss to the San Diego Toreros Saturday night at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.

The Pilots (8-18, 2-8 West Coast Conference) sputtered out of the gates as San Diego made their first four three-pointers and led 14-0 less than five minutes into play. The Toreros (15-11, 8-1) would push to the lead to 26-9 on a jumper by Brandon Johnson.

"We got some good shots early that didn't drop and they got wide open shots that did drop," Portland head coach Eric Reveno said. "It snowballed from there and turnovers became a problem."

USD took its largest lead of the night at 52-30 on a three-point play by Trumaine Johnson with 13:11 remaining, but the Pilots used full court pressure and late three-point shooting to pull within 70-59 with 2:36 remaining. Ultimately, the early deficit was too much to overcome.

Sikma had a stellar game, shooting 8-for-10 from the field and adding six rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Fellow freshman Jared Stohl drained four threes and matched his career-high with 14 points. Sophomore forward Robin Smeulders added 11 points, all in the second half.

Brandon Johnson, who hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to beat the Pilots 64-61 in Portland earlier this year, led USD with 16 points. Freshman Trumaine Johnson and Rob Jones added 14 each.

"We've got to competitively respond better in games like today," Reveno added. "The wake-up call needs to kick in earlier. I liked our response in the second half after we stopped the bleeding, but it was too much by that time."

The Toreros shot 54 percent from the field for the game and made 7-of-13 three-pointers. The Pilots finished at 38 percent overall and 5-for-16 from long range.

USD used a three-pointer by Chris Lewis at the halftime buzzer to take a 37-22 lead at the break. USD shot 57 percent in the half, while Portland committed seven turnovers.

"We are undeniably on the right track," Reveno continued. "The future is very bright and our young guys are getting better. Now we've got to get over the hump."

Gonzaga - 83
San Francisco - 63

San Francisco, CA - USF got 20 points from sophomore forward Dior Lowhorn and an emotional lift from senior forward Vince Polakovic, but it was not enough as Gonzaga rolled to a 83-63 West Coast Conference decision Saturday night at War Memorial Gym. The Dons (6-19, 2-10 WCC) dropped their fourth straight on Homecoming, while the Bulldogs (20-6, 9-1 WCC) take their seventh straight win in the series.

David Pendergraft scored 17 points to lead Gonzaga to an 83-63 victory over San Francisco on Saturday. Jeremy Pargo added 11 points, seven assists and three steals for Gonzaga (20-6, 9-1 West Coast Conference). Five Bulldogs scored at least nine points, including Austin Daye, who had 10.

Lowhorn, who entered the game as the WCC's leading scorer with a 20.8 average, scored a game-high 20 points for USF (6-19, 2-8). He made 8 of 11 shots from the field.

The Bulldogs spread the offense throughout their roster in the first half with 10 players scoring from two to seven points. They shot 60 percent in the first half.

After USF pulled to within eight points with 5:30 remaining in the half, the Bulldogs went on a 13-4 run for a 49-29 halftime lead.

Pendergraft and Steven Gray scored seven points apiece in the first half to pace Gonzaga's balanced offense. Gray led the Bulldogs with six rebounds.

USF senior Polakovic scored a career-high 18 points and had six rebounds for the Dons. Polakovic sat out the first 24 games of the season as the NCAA determined he had played on a professional team in Germany where other players were paid, but Polakovic was not paid for his services. The senior forward converted on 6-of-11 from the field and pulled down six rebounds in his first game since February 24, 2007 against Gonzaga.

USF closes out its three-game homestand Monday against Portland. Game time against the Pilots is set for 7:00 PM at War Memorial Gym and will be televised live on Comcast.

NOTES: First sellout of the season for USF at War Memorial (4,500)... Dior Lowhorn has scored at least 20 points in 14 games this season... USF's newest Hall of Fame class was introduced in the second half. Wallace Bryant, '82 and Jamie Shadian, '99 were honored.

Pepperdine - 64
Santa Clara - 58

MALIBU, Calif. - Junior guard Rico Tucker scored a team-high 19 points, including a game-ending dunk in the final seconds, to lead the Pepperdine men's basketball team to a 64-58 victory over Santa Clara in West Coast Conference action on Saturday night.

Pepperdine (9-17 overall, 3-7 WCC) surpassed its win total from the 2006-07 season in front of a Homecoming crowd of 1,997. Santa Clara dropped to 12-12, 4-5. Pepperdine defeated Santa Clara for the 11th time in the last 12 meetings in Malibu.

Tucker (San Diego, Calif./University HS/Minnesota) added five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Freshman forward Malcolm Thomas (San Diego, Calif./Crawford HS) recorded 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

With the Waves holding a one-point lead, Tucker worked his way down the lane and scored a lay-up to give Pepperdine a 60-57 lead with 1:19 to play. After the teams traded turnovers, Santa Clara's John Bryant made one free throw with 25.8 seconds left, but Tucker did the same with 24.9 seconds remaining to make it 61-58. After a Bronco miss, junior guard Ryan Holmes (Phoenix, Ariz./Millennium HS/Phoenix CC) made one free throw to give the Waves a four-point lead at 62-58 with 13.1 seconds left.

Santa Clara's last opportunity to get back into the game was thwarted when junior guard Mike Hornbuckle (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian HS/Azusa Pacific) stole the ball at halfcourt, then fed it to Tucker, who jammed it home with five seconds remaining.

Tucker was also a key figure down the stretch in Pepperdine's 71-66 win at Portland on Monday night, when he scored eight of the game's final 10 points. This marks the first time the Waves have won consecutive games since November.

"I think our guys deserve every single bit of attention and love that they're getting, because they have the hearts of lions," said Pepperdine interim coach Eric Bridgeland, who won his third game since taking over in January. "They play together and they believe and they deserve every `W' that they get. We're starting to form an identity. We're starting to figure out what we do well."

Amazingly, the Waves won the game despite being outshot 57.1 percent to 37.5 percent. But 18 offensive rebounds by Pepperdine coupled with a +11 difference on turnovers (22 to 11) made the difference.

The first-half shooting numbers tilted heavily in Santa Clara's favor (.577 to .353), but still, the Waves went into the break with a 33-32 advantage. Santa Clara rode a 12-0 run early in the game out to a 14-4 lead with 12 ½ minutes to play. But the Waves rallied and tied the game at 18-18 after a three-pointer by freshman guard Jon Reed (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif./Peninsula HS). Tucker's three-pointer with 35 seconds left was the final basket of the half and gave Pepperdine only its fifth halftime lead of the season.

Santa Clara's only lead of the second half came at 43-42, but the Waves then went on an 8-0 run to make it 50-43. Pepperdine built its largest lead of the game at eight points at 53-45, though the Broncos rallied to keep the game close to the end.

Saint Mary's - 80
Loyola Marymount - 49

Los Angeles, CA - Patrick Mills scored a game-high 22 points and hit four 3-pointers to lead the No. 21/25-ranked Saint Mary's Gaels to an 80-48 West Coast Conference road win over the Loyola Marymount Lions at Gersten Pavilion. Mills was one of two Gaels to score in double figures, as Diamon Simpson finished the game with 12 points and nine rebounds. Every player that dressed for Saint Mary's scored at least two points.

Saint Mary's (22-3/9-1 WCC) shot nearly 49 percent from the floor and over 40 percent from behind the arc en route to its ninth WCC win in 10 tries. The 9-1 record to start conference play is the best WCC start since opening the 1958-59 conference season with an 11-0 record.

Saint Mary's held LMU to 26.4 percent from the field, which is the lowest by a SMC opponent this season. The Gaels out-rebounded the Lions 43-28.

As the game opened, the score seesawed for the first three minutes, with the Lions taking an 11-9 lead following four straight free throws, two by Tim Diederichs and two by Orlando Johnson at the 16:08 mark. After the two-point Lions lead, SMC used a 14-2 run to take a 23-13 lead with 10:34 left in the half. The run included baskets by Yusef and Tron Smith and a three by Patrick Mills, to take a 16-13 lead with 11:51 left in the half, and then two free throws by Ian O'Leary, a 15-foot jumper by Mills and a three by Carlin Hughes had the Gaels up by double figures.

The SMC advantage would hover around 10 points for the next six minutes. With the Gaels leading 28-17, Saint Mary's went on a 9-2 run to open an 18-point advantage (37-19) following the third 3-pointer of the half by Mills. Mills finished the first half with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting and was 3-of-5 from 3-point land. SMC led 39-22 at the intermission.

Saint Mary's opened the second half by scoring the first 12 points to open a 51-22 lead with 15:31 left to play. The half began with an Omar Samhan lay-up and back-to-back baskets by Diamon Simpson. After two free throws by Simpson, Mills hit his fourth three of the game to five SMC a 29-point lead just 4:29 into the second half.

Saint Mary's emptied the bench with more than 10 minutes left in the game. DuBois Williams, who averages just 5.3 minutes per game, played 11 minutes and scored a season-high six points. Mickey McConnell tied his season-high with five points and Lucas Walker had eight points off the bench.

Saint Mary's will return to West Coast Conference action on Monday, Feb. 18 against the Pepperdine Waves. The game between SMC and Pepperdine will tip-off at 7 p.m. at the Firestone Fieldhouse. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net in the Bay Area.