Coming into this season, the Toreros expected to rely heavily on their heralded freshman class for depth. Their recent success has been driven by the development of their young players, and it was only full display in their 78-66 win over Portland on Saturday. The Toreros got 27 points from a trio of freshmen, and they outscored the Pilots 44-6 in points off the bench as they locked up the #5 seed in the WCC Tournament.
Cameron Neubauer had a breakout game with a career-high 10 points on a perfect shooting day where he went 4-4 from field goald range and 2-2 from three point range. Fellow freshman Vasa Pusica chipped in 10 points, and Marcus Harris added 7 points. The seniors also had a strong night as Johnny Dee had a team-high 12 points and Chris Anderson supplied 6 points and 9 assists.
Kevin Bailey and Alec Wintering had big nights for the Pilots, but it was due to a heavy reliance on them as the rest of the team struggled. The duo took 30 of the 53 field goal attempts by the Pilots, and they scored 44 out of 66 points. Only two other players had 5+ points as Thomas Van der Mars had 7 points and Bobby Sharp had 5 points.
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The Pilots continue to struggle inside where they were outrebounded 37-26 by the Toreros. Van der Mars had a game-high 8 rebounds, but fellow frontcourt mate Volodymyr Gerun had zero. The struggles inside for the Pilots recently has results in the reliance on the shooters, and it has not led to success.
With the win, the Toreros improve to 15-15 overall and 8-9 in conference play. They snap a three game winning streak and split the season series with the Pilots. As the #5 seed in the WCC Tournament, they will face #4 Pepperdine in the quarterfinals on Saturday. The winner of that game will likely face #1 seed Gonzaga in the semifinals on Monday.
The Pilots drop to 16-14 overall and 7-11 in conference play. Thanks to Santa Clara upsetting Saint Mary’s on Saturday, the Pilots secure the #6 seed in the WCC Tournament despite this loss. They will face #3 Saint Mary’s in the quarterfinals next Saturday. The Gaels fell to #3 after losing on Saturday combined with BYU upsetting Gonzaga in Spokane.