The University of San Diego men’s basketball team stunned a New Mexico State team that’s been on a winning tear and handed its first loss of the season at home Wednesday. The Toreros beat the Aggies, 65-60, at the Pan American Center.
Both teams were slow to start but USD (6-2) pulled to an early 9-8 lead by a trio of three-pointers from Isaiah Pineiro, Juwan Gray and Isaiah Wright within the first six minutes. After that, the game was back and forth, with neither team pulling away.
By halftime, both teams were tied at 29 and neither had found their rhythm. NM State shot just 34.5 percent from the floor while USD fared a little better at 38.5 percent.
Both teams found the rhythm they were lacking in the second half with the Toreros on a 4-and-5 run to open the half. The game was tight throughout with 15 lead changes and 11 ties. After three buckets by USD to give the Toreros a 45-40 lead, San Diego never relinquished the lead after that.
“We had a couple chances to get the crowd behind us and get a little bit of a lead,” NM State coach Chris Jans said. “And we weren’t able to do that. We switched our defense up there midway through the second half and I thought it helped us get back in the game. But, we were never able to get over that hump. The crowd was trying to get us over that hump. We couldn’t make the critical play to get the lead.”
With the loss, the Aggies (6-2) snapped their 17-game non-conference home win streak. The Toreros were able to snap their two-game losing streak after starting the season 5-0.
“Coach Jans does a great job here and they have a great fan base and great tradition,” USD coach Lamont Smith said. “Hats off to our club. Getting punched in the nose the last two outings and coming here and being resilient and executing a great game plan by Coach Rencher. And Tyler Williams was great down the stretch. He gave us some calm. Tonight was a total team effort.”
USD was not particularly good with 3-pointers coming into the game, making 32.9 percent of shots. The Toreros, however, were able to make key 3-pointers where it counted in this game, making 11 of 27 (40.7 percent). Wright made four 3-pointers to finish with 17 points. Williams was perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc and finished with 13 points. Pineiro led the Toreros with 23 points.
USD returns home to host the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Jenny Craig Pavillion.
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