USF’s Texas Link Tangles Up Toreros
San Francisco Coach Jim Brovelli had such a good time recruiting in Texas last year, don’t be surprised if he takes up residence there after this season.
Three Texans whom Brovelli picked up last spring helped USF shoot down the University of San Diego, 89-81, Friday in a West Coast Conference game in front of 2,496 at War Memorial Gym.
And by doing so, the Dons (11-13, 4-7) snapped a seven-game losing streak and might have killed any chance USD had at the WCC regular-season title.
It’s still a bit early, but second-place USD, which lost for only the second time in 11 games and fell to 16-8, 8-3, probably will need to win the rest of its games, including the season finale against first-place Pepperdine on Feb. 23, and rely on a little help. Pepperdine, which defeated Gonzaga, 84-56, in Spokane, improved to 16-8, 10-1.
USD, which trailed, 80-71, with 1:55 left still appeared to have a chance to get back in the game. The Toreros managed to get to 83-77 with 1:18 left, but they missed two three-point attempts. Four consecutive points from Tim Owens put the game away.
Owens, a junior transfer from Midland, Tex., finished with a career-high 33 points, making 11 of 18 shots and 11 of 12 free throws. He also had nine rebounds. Owens, started the game as the WCC’s second-leading scorer, averaging 20.3 points per game. He is threatening to become the first Don to average more than 20 points since the program was reinstated in 1985.
Orlando Smart, a freshman from Austin, Tex., scored 18 on six of nine shooting and had 11 assists. Smart, who already has set a USF single-season assist record, began the game ranked second in the WCC’s for assists, averaging 7.7. That would place him fourth on the all-time NCAA freshman list. Georgia Tech’s Kenny Anderson set the record last year, averaging 8.4.
Darryl Johnson, a Houston native who led the nation in rebounding a year ago at a Kansas junior college, had 12 rebounds in 26 minutes of playing time.
Johnson was out with a sprained ankle when USD defeated USF by 22, 90-68, Jan. 19 in San Diego.
Obviously it was a much different story Friday.
Asked to describe it, USD Coach Hank Egan said:
“We played a basketball game. A team beat us. I don’t think there’s any hidden meaning there . . . We lost. They executed when they needed to. We didn’t execute when we needed to. Whether or not it means anything as far as the conference is concerned, I don’t know.
“I thought we played a lot of one-on-one basketball, and we didn’t play a lick of (defense) all night,” he said. “I’ll tell you this, I didn’t like the way we played.
“I didn’t like the way we started this game. And I sure as hell didn’t like the way we finished.”
To finish it, USF nearly accomplished something it did a year ago here when the Dons made 17 of 18 free throws and won, 77-67.
This time, USF made 18-of-22 foul shots in the final 6:10. The Toreros made only 18 of 30.
Point guard Wayman Strickland led USD with 21 points, including 15 in the second half and the Toreros’ last eight before Michael Brown made three throws to end the scoring.
After USD took its biggest lead of the first half, 32-25, with 5:45 left, the momentum shifted to the Dons, who used an 11-0 run to go up, 36-32, with 2:17 left.
Keith Colvin’s layin with 1:58 left was USD’s first basket in nearly four minutes. Colvin also became the last of nine Toreros who entered to score in the half.
Pat Holbert (14 points) scored nine in the first half. His three-pointer at 9:09 gave USD a five-point lead. After a Don basket, his 18-foot jumper at 8:10 made it five again. Then at 5:45, his one-handed driving push shot in the lane and around Owens gave USD its seven-point lead.
Owens scored eight of the Dons’ first 12 points and nine of the first 17. He was then slowed for several minutes when Holbert began covering him. He finished with 13 points.
Smart had nine points and six assists, one fewer than USD.