Despite having the one of the top defenses in the league, USD men’s basketball team came up short Saturday against No. 13 St. Mary’s Gaels at home. The Toreros was playing their second top-15 team in three days.
Fresh off their loss to No. 14 Gonzaga on Thursday where the Toreros also nearly pulled an upset, USD (15-9, 6-6 West Coast Conference), again, came up short in the 65-62 game. St. Mary’s Jock Landale was unstoppable with 34 points and 18 rebounds.
“I’m proud of our guys and you know how I am on losses which I don’t take very well,” said head coach Lamont Smith. “We kept battling. After getting down big we stuck with our game plan. We knew if we gave up a bunch to Landale and locked up the rest of their guys that we would have a chance. He’s a load and hard to guard.”
USD nearly pulled off the upset when Isaiah Wright got the Toreros with two at 61-59 with 47 seconds left in the game. St Mary’s answered back with a floater with 16 seconds left but Wright landed a 3-pointer to get USD within 1 point at 63-62 with 11 seconds left. Gaels’ guard Emmett Naar was fouled with 7 seconds left and made both free throws to add to St. Mary’s lead, 65-62. Wright attempted to tie the game with a 3-pointer but the ball bounced off the front rim at the buzzer.
“Our guys kept battling and battling,” Smith said. “We are not into moral victories but if our guys are going to battle like that I’m going to sleep good at night.”
The Toreros are one of the nation’s top defensive teams, limiting opponents to an average of 64 points per game.
Saint Mary’s remained perfect in WCC play at 12-0 and improved to 23-2 with its 18th-straight win.
Up next, USD will travel to Malibu to face the Pepperdine Waves on Thursday at Firestone Fieldhouse.
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