Center Scott Thompson scored a career-high 31 points and had 10 rebounds to lead the University of San Diego to a 60-57 victory over Utah Friday night in its season opener at Salt Lake City, Utah.
Thompson, a 7-foot senior, had 20 points in the first half as the Toreros ran up a 40-24 halftime lead and then held off a Utah charge late in the game.
"It's a great win," USD Coach Hank Egan said. "Early in the season, it's hard to play on the road. We got a little nervous in the second half, but we held on when we had to."
USD dominated the game in the first half, making 15 of 29 shots from the field and outrebounding the Utes, 19 to 10. During one stretch, the Toreros put in 16 straight points.
But Utah rallied in the second half, outscoring USD, 8-2, in the first three minutes, with forward Mitch Smith scoring six of those points. As a crowd of 9,756 at the Special Events Center cheered them on, the Utes cut the USD lead to 47-44 with a 12-0 run midway through the second half.
Utah came within two points with 1:10 remaining in the game when Gail Gondrezick's three-point jump shot made the score 56-54. Reserve forward Steve Krallman gave USD some breathing room, sinking both free throw attempts after being fouled by the Utes' Sie Moore.
But Utah threatened again as Tommy Connor made a three-pointer with 11 seconds left to cut the Toreros' lead to 58-57. The Utes applied a full-court press as the Toreros brought the ball inbounds, but Thompson threw a length-of-the-court pass to Krallman for a layup to end the game.
In the second half, USD shot only 36% from the floor and was outrebounded, 21-14.
Gondrezick led the Utes with 21 points, 15 of which came on three-point shots.