Tyler Williams led the Toreros with 19 points in the loss to Santa Clara on Thursday. Photo courtesy of USD

A slow start Thursday night spelled doom for the USD men’s basketball team as it opened conference play against Santa Clara in Santa Clara.

The Toreros (11-5, 0-1 WCC) missed their first nine shots and were 2-of-14 in the field in the 68-56 loss to the Broncos to start West Coast Conference play. USD managed to only score 18 points in the first half, its slowest start of the season.

The Broncos (9-6, 1-0) never trailed and at one point led by as much as 20 points in the first half during a 13-0 run that that saw Santa Clara leading 25-5. They would end the half with a 35-18 lead, much of it thanks to Tahj Eaddy. Eaddy scored 21 of his career-high 30 points in the first half alone.

USD burst to life in the second half, scoring the first nine points to cut the deficit down to eight. That was as close as the Toreros got until another rally late in them to within six at 62-56 in the final two minutes.

After USD’s mini-rally to start the second half, Santa Clara scored seven unanswered points for a 60-41 lead. The Broncos held on to the lead despite losing starters Trey Werts and Josip Vrankic to foul troubles late in the game.

Tyler Williams led USD with 19 points. Both Isaiah Pineiro and Yauhen Massalski with Pineiro scoring 12 points and a career-high 16 rebounds while Massalki had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Up next, the Toreros head home to host Pacific at 7 p.m. Saturday at Jenny Craig Pavillion.

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