USD men’s basketball team, wishing not to repeat Thursday’s mistake, exploded in the second half for the win over Pacific while San Diego State floundered in its season opener against Boise State on Saturday.
After leading at halftime, the Toreros (12-5, 1-1 West Coast Conference), which also had a slow start in Thursday’s season opener against Santa Clara, went on a 16-0 run in the first 7 1/2 minutes, in the 73-64 win over the Tigers (10-7, 0-2) at Jenny Craig Pavillion.
“We did a great job, got back to our identity,” USD coach Sam Scholl said. “Contrary to Thursday, we didn’t let some slow offense break our defense and kind of compromise how we approached each possession defensively.”
USD stuck to its man-to-man coverage despite the lackluster start to the game — Pacific was 5-0 in the first three minutes and 20 seconds. The Toreros did not capture the lead until well into eight minutes into the game.
But it was the second half that saw a USD surge. The Toreros’ 31-25 lead ballooned to a 47-37 lead in a rally that started with an Olin Carter III’s 3-pointer and ended with another trey.
Forward Yauhen Massalski was dominant in defense for the Toreros. The sophomore recorded seven of USD’s 10 block shots, a career high. He also had 11 points and nine rebounds, one short of what would have been a second straight double-double.
“He was excellent,” Scholl said. “We knew they were going to be a team that was going to look to drive, drive, drive, and he did a fantastic job of coming over and making midline plays and being a playmaker at the rim.”
The Toreros are now 9-0 at home.
Up next, USD will host Pepperdine on Saturday.
The Aztecs (8-6, 0-1) were trailing by double digits for the entire second half in the 88-64 loss to the Broncos. SDSU was trailing 46-25 at the half and opened the second half with a 12-2 run to cut the deficit down to the 11, but that was the closest the Aztecs got.
San Diego State had trouble defensively, allowing Boise State (7-8, 2-0), which had 50 points total in its last home game, to shoot 57 percent on the floor.
Devin Watson led the Aztecs with 24 points and Jalen McDaniels recorded 14 points for SDSU.
Up next, SDSU plays host to Wyoming on Tuesday.