Saturday, January 7, 2017

San Diego 76, Pepperdine 68: Williams' career day powers the Toreros

                                     Photo Credit: Salt Lake Tribune

By: Devin Larkins
Twitter: @MotownApe

MALIBU— The San Diego Toreros (8-8, 1-3 West Coast Conference) played consistent throughout the game and stuck to their game plan and not straying away from it as they edged out a win from Pepperdine Waves (5-11, 1-4 WCC) 76-68. 

The visiting Toreros came into Firestone Fieldhouse and kept things steady. They were led by sophomore guard Tyler Williams, who finished a career-high 20 points for San Diego. Carrying this Toreros to their first WCC win.

Game Recap:

Both teams traded shots and defensive stops in the first half.  Lamond Murray Jr. for Pepperdine, scored a game high 23 points and 15 of which came in the first half, on 5-of-9 shooting. 

Guard Jeremy Major added the defensive pressure for the Waves, literally scrambling at times for five first half rebounds. 38-37 was the score at the half in favor of the Toreros barely upping the Waves' first half performance was Williams, who scored 16. Williams' offense was partnered with the active defensive presence by Juwan Gray, who came down with seven defensive rebounds in half one.

The Toreros came out aggressive by starting the half on a 10-2 run and coach Lamont Smith thought they were locked in the rest of the way. 

"We [Toreros] really locked in defensively and really challenged our guys to try to get stops," Smith said. "We want to get three consecutive stops for as many times as we can and only got it once the first half."

The defensive strategy showed true by forcing Pepperdine to a scoreless drought of 5:14 in the second half.

The Toreros played different on offense in final half as well by penetrating and making precise cuts to the rim. “Defensively we [Waves] lost our focus," Pepperdine coach Marty Wilson said. "With all their [Toreros] action— now a back-cut happens. That is the disappointing part. Losing our [Waves'] defensive principles." 

A lot these cuts to the rim were facilitated by Williams, who had three second half assists, with Cameron Neubauer scoring nine second half points.

The game never got of hand due to San Diego and Pepperdine finishing the game shooting 48 percent and 46 percent, respectively, to go along with a combined 24 turnovers (San Diego 13, Pepperdine 11).

What’s Next:

San Diego heads on to play Santa Clara (8-8, 2-1), while Pepperdine looks to get back on the winning track against the Pacific Tigers (7-9, 1-2 WCC), both being conference match-ups.

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