After last week where the USD men’s basketball team played two of its best games this season against conference heavyweights, Gonzaga and St. Mary’s, this week’s game against last-place Pepperdine should have been easy. Instead, the Toreros almost got this one taken away.
“This was a gut-out performance,” Toreros coach Lamont Smith said in a post-game radio interview. “We had our backs against the wall pretty much the whole game but the guys just kept fighting and clawing and we found a way. It wasn’t pretty but we found a way to win on the road.”
USD was able to sidestep what would have been an embarrassing upset on the backs of its seldom-used junior forward Jose Martinez. Coming off the bench, Martinez led the Toreros with a career-high 16 points.
Prior to Thursday’s game, Martinez averaged 1.2 points per game and 2 of 10 on 3-pointers. So far this season, he’s played in only nine of the Toreros’ first 24 games. On Thursday, Martinez was 5 of 8 on 3-pointers.
“Jose was outstanding tonight,” Smith said. “We knew they were going to zone us and Jose is a player not afraid of the moment and not afraid to compete. I couldn’t be more happy for him. He looked like a seasoned vet out there. He really helped us get that win.”
As a team, USD made 15 treys on 34 attempts, tying the program’s single-game record. The 34 attempts were just one shy of the school’s record. Besides Martinez, four other Toreros reached double-digit scoring. Isaiah Pineiro scored 12 points, Tyler Williams and Olin Carter III had 11 each, and Isaiah Wright scored 10.
USD is on the road again this weekend, facing Santa Clara at 1 p.m. at Santa Clara.
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