Johnson scores late to help San Diego to 73-62 win over USF
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Brandon Johnson scored six of his 18 points in the final three minutes, and San Diego stayed close to front-running Gonzaga and St. Mary’s in the crowded West Coast Conference with a 73-62 win over San Francisco on Monday night.
Gyno Pomare added 18 points and five rebounds for the Toreros (14-11, 7-1 WCC), who won their sixth straight despite a sloppy offensive performance in the first half when the team missed 9-of-10 3-pointers and committed nine turnovers.
San Diego tightened up its game in the second half, however, and rode the scoring from Johnson and a stingy defense that held San Francisco (6-18, 2-7) to one basket during a key five-minute stretch late in the game to hand the Dons their third straight loss.
The Toreros, whose last loss came Jan. 19 against Gonzaga, stayed a half-game behind the Bulldogs and St. Mary’s in the chase for the conference’s top spot and has a shot to close that gap with games against both teams in the next two weeks.
Dior Lowhorn had 17 points and Dean Hadley scored a career-high 12 for San Francisco.
The game marked the Dons’ first appearance in San Francisco since notching interim coach Eddie Sutton’s 800th career victory with a come-from-behind win at Pepperdine on Feb. 2. The Dons haven’t won since, losing by five to Loyola Marymount before getting blown out by No. 23 St. Mary’s.
Before the game against San Diego, San Francisco honored Sutton—who took over the Dons when Jessie Evans requested a leave of absence in December—with a plaque commemorating win No. 800 along with a ball signed by his current players.
Little else went right for Sutton or San Francisco the rest of the night, though.
San Francisco fell behind by 10 points six minutes into the game and failed to take advantage of San Diego’s poor shooting in the first half. The Toreros, who were 1-for-11 on 3-pointers in a 46-41 win over the Dons on Jan. 12, missed their first nine 3s in the rematch and didn’t score from beyond the arc until Chris Lewis’ trey with 53 seconds remained.
But San Diego owns the conference’s stingiest defense and smothered San Francisco sophomore Dior Lowhorn underneath the basket every time the WCC’s leading scorer got the ball down low. Lowhorn went 4 of 9 in the first half and was 0-for-5 from the free throw line, then was held scoreless for the first 10 minutes of the second half.
San Diego led 25-20 at halftime and was ahead 59-53 with under five minutes remaining when Johnson helped the Toreros pull away. Named Player of the Month for January, Johnson scored on a driving lay-in and added three free throws, the last of which gave San Diego a 14-point lead.
Trumaine Johnson added 10 points for San Diego.