Nov. 14, 2006
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Paced by sophomore forward Amber Sprague's 22 points, the University of San Diego women's basketball team (2-0) downed UC Riverside (0-2) 68-53 Tuesday evening in a non-conference game at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.
The Toreros up-tempo offense and pressure defense had the Highlanders struggling at the beginning, as the Toreros led by as many as 19 in the first half and by 17 at halftime. UCR rallied in the second half, getting within four but ultimately fell short as USD closed the game with a 15-4 run sparked by a huge Morgan Henderson three-point basket with 8:14 remaining.
"I thought this was a great team effort tonight. I thought that everyone that came in gave us great minutes," said head coach Cindy Fisher. "I thought that Amber (Sprague) set the tone and Amanda Rego's 11 assists was big as she was distributing the ball to the open person and getting us those open looks we needed. I also think Morgan Henderson was probably the difference in the second half. I thought her effort, offensive rebounds and giving us those second opportunities when we really needed it was big."
For the second consecutive game, Sprague led all scores with 22 points and she also pulled down eight boards, recorded two steals and had five blocks on the evening. Senior center Sabine Loewe was the second of four Toreros in double figures as she scored 12 points. Henderson added 11 points and Kelly Winther was the final USD player in double figures as the sophomore guard scored 10 points. Junior guard Amanda Rego had a solid night directing the San Diego offense to a 49 percent shooting performance as she dished out a game-high 11 assists.
For the Highlanders, sophomore guard Seyram Gbewonyo led UCR with 16 points and five rebounds. Junior forward/center Kemie Nkele added 15 points and five rebounds while sophomore forward Ronéy Friend had nine points, five rebounds, and four assists.
Coming off an 18-point victory at Cal State Northridge on Friday, USD started strong, hitting seven of its first nine shots to take a 15-4 lead into the first media timeout. UCR worked to find its rhythm, with sophomore guard Chanel Foster gaining two quick baskets and a three-pointer by Gbewonyo cutting the Torero lead to 10 at 23-13 with 9:50 left in the first.
However, the torrid Toreros stayed hot, shooting 56.0 percent (14-for-25) for the first period and controlling the boards, 21-10, for a commanding 36-19 halftime lead. Sprague keyed the Toreros' first half offensive outburst, hitting seven of her 11 attempts for 16 points before the break. The Highlanders, on the other hand, were 9-for-28 from the floor (32.1%) in the first half.
Nkele hit back-to-back three-pointers to bring UCR back within 10 at 40-30 with 15:29 remaining. Sprague picked up her fourth foul at the 11:12 mark with USD leading 48-36. From that point on, UCR went on a 9-2 run, with another three-pointer by Gbewonyo cutting it to five at 50-45 with 9:14 left. The Highlanders got within four, 55-51, before a lay-up by Sabine Loewe pushed the Torero advantage back to six with 3:29 to go. UCR got open looks on its next possessions but couldn't convert as they made just one basket in the final 6:40.
USD halted the Highlander comeback with 1:20 left and when USD's Kiva Herman missed the front end of a bonus foul shot, the ball fell to Sprague, who layed the ball in to give the Toreros a 61-51 lead that they would not look back on.
The Toreros will return to action on Sunday as they host cross-town rival San Diego State University on a 2 p.m. non-conference game inside the Jenny Craig Pavilion.