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March 10--For the first time in WCC tournament history, the San Diego Toreros are the WCC men’s basketball tournament champions


 

 
 
Pictured: USD's Jason Keep was named tournament MVP.

March 10--For the first time in WCC tournament history, the San Diego Toreros are the WCC men’s basketball tournament champions. The Toreros held on to beat Gonzaga 72-63. With the win, the Toreros earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and their first trip to the Big Dance since the 1986-87 season when they finished with a 24-6 mark. San Diego improves to 18-11, while Gonzaga falls to 23-8. Both teams will now wait till Sunday to find out their seeds for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

The Toreros shook off a slow start and entered the break with a 38-33 advantage thanks to the play of freshman forward Nick Lewis who came off the bench to score 10 first half points. Down 22-15 midway through the first half, San Diego rolled off 10 unanswered points to pull ahead for its first lead of the game at 25-22 at the 8:59 mark. During the run, Lewis connected on two big three-pointers to shift the momentum to USD. San Diego senior center Jason Keep, who was named the Tournament MVP, added eight points in the half, while senior guard Roy Morris chipped in seven.

Gonzaga’s Zach Gourde scored nine points by the break on 4-for-4 shooting from the field, while Blake Stepp added eight and Ronny Turiaf chipped in seven. Both teams went into the locker rooms shooting the ball well with identical 52 percent shooting percentages.

Behind the play of Turiaf, the Bulldogs rallied in the second half. The 6-10 sophomore forward had a dominating half on both ends of the floor for the Bulldogs, pouring in 19 points, hauling down nine boards and blocking five shots. Unfortunately for Gonzaga the rest of the team struggled from the field. Stepp, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, struggled from the field, connecting on just 3-of-15 from for 10 points, while Gourde was the only other Gonzaga player to reach double figures with 13 points. Turiaf and Stepp were named to the All-Tournament team.

Keep finished with a team-high 18 points to go along with six rebounds, while Morris scored 15 points. Senior guard Matt Delzell and freshman forward Nick Lewis were both named to the All-Tournament team after scoring 14 points each.

WCC All-Tournament Team-Gonzaga: Blake Stepp, Ronny Turiaf; San Diego: Matt Delzell, Nick Lewis WCC Tournament MVP: Jason Keep, San Diego