SAN DIEGO — Hank Egan, University of San Diego basketball coach, had some firm ideas on how he wanted his team to approach the so-called second season. He got his way, sort of.
"I didn't want us to back up to the pay window," Egan said after the Toreros defeated Loyola Marymount, 99-84, Saturday night in the first round of the West Coast Athletic Conference tournament.
"I wanted us to attack in this game. I didn't want us going to San Francisco on a lark, because it will be for all the marbles next week."
The Toreros, the league's regular-season champion, overcame a case of first-half jitters and advanced to the semifinals of the WCAC tournament Friday night at the University of San Francisco. USD will face seventh-seeded Pepperdine, which defeated Gonzaga Saturday night.
The tournament winner is assured of a berth in the NCAA tournament.
The Toreros, who led by only two points at halftime, went on a 34-13 run to take a 79-59 lead with 8:33 remaining.
Center Scott Thompson led the charge with 15 points en route to a 24-point evening. Marty Munn came off the bench to score 10 points, while Mark Manor hit 3 of his eventual total of 6 three-point baskets during the USD streak.
USD extended its unbeaten streak to 14 games, third longest in the nation. The Toreros finished the regular season with a 23-4 overall record and were 13-1 in conference play.
Guard Chris Nikchevich scored 20 points to lead Loyola, which finished with a 12-16 record.
"The game was where we wanted it at halftime," Coach Paul Westhead said, "but we missed some easy shots in the second half. USD has a lot of balance, and this was a great win for them."
The Lions, after forcing a faster pace than USD liked in the first half, were unable to stay close after the Toreros made some halftime adjustments.
Egan changed his team's mental outlook and its defensive strategy.
"We were nervous in the first half and we didn't hustle like we should have," Thompson said. "I think we had the tournament jitters, but after coach chewed us out at halftime, we hustled a lot better in the second half."
Guard Danny Means, who was 3 for 6 from three-point range, played a role in the revised defense.
Egan assigned him to harass the Loyola point guards as they brought the ball up the court.
"I was trying to slow the ball down and prevent the easy passes," Means said.
The Toreros had mixed zone and man-to-man defenses in the first half before going to a straight man in the second half, according to Egan.
"They were beating us in the transition game in the first half," the coach said. "I think they got 13 points by beating us down the court. The key was when we went to a straight man-to-man defense in the second half."
USD built a 41-22 halftime lead in an earlier game here against Loyola but had a far more difficult time in the first half Saturday night.
Loyola raced to a 16-7 lead on a three-point basket by Enoch Simmons, but the Toreros chipped away and went ahead.