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Toreros sink Pepperdine in first round of WCC tournament, 76-54

March 1, 2012

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The University of San Diego men's basketball team advanced to the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament with a 76-54 victory in Las Vegas.

Freshman Johnny Dee put on a shooting clinic Thursday night with a career-high 30 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including 6-of-9 from three-point range.

"Confidence is key and we executed tonight," Dee said. "The key is getting open shots and tonight I made those. After you make that first one you're just ready to keep going."

Dee's freshman companion in the backcourt, point guard Christopher Anderson, also turned in a solid performance, finishing with eight assists to just two turnovers, six points and three steals.

"Obviously you have a concern (with freshman) going into this environment for the first time about how they're going to approach it," San Diego assistant coach Mike Burns said. "They've passed every test we've thrown their way and they did it again tonight."

Pepperdine led 8-7 in the first four minutes of regulation, but the Toreros went on a furious 22-4 run to lead 29-12 with 6:36 remaining in the first half. The Waves then trimmed the lead to 33-22 at the break after a 10-4 to close the half.

The Waves picked up where they left off in the second half on an 11-4 run and cut the USD lead to 37-33. San Diego head coach Bill Grier then called a timeout and decided to switch their defensive scheme.

"To be honest, I think the thing that turned the tide in the game was us going to coach (Rodney) Tension's 1-2-2 zone defense," Burns said, "That slowed their momentum, they missed shots and we were able to turn those missed shots into baskets at the other end."

Ken Rancifer was the only other Torero besides Dee to score in double figures with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Grier was able to give some of his regular players a rest in the closing minutes. Eleven Toreros saw the floor Thursday night, and all of them contributed at least one point.

Next in the Torero's path resides the third-seeded BYU Cougars (24-7). The Toreros will have their hands full with WCC-leading scorer Brandon Davies (18.0 ppg) and fifth-leading scorer Noah Hartstock (15.7 ppg). BYU beat San Diego 88-52 in Provo on December 31 and 82-63 at Jenny Craig Pavilion on January 16.

Said Burns: "Our guys feel like we're capable. BYU is a phenomenal basketball team and if we want a chance to play in the NCAA tournament, we're going to have to beat tournament caliber teams. That's going to be the challenge tomorrow night."

Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. Pacific Standard Time tomorrow evening from the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.


Story from University of San Diego TorerosFor more information, please visit the WCC Tournament Central Page