SAN DIEGO — On a night when 18 lights went out late in the second half at the Sports Center, the University of San Diego had its 17-game home winning streak snapped.
After a fuse blew and the lights went out with 43 seconds to play, the game continued in partial darkness and UC Santa Barbara made seven of eight free throws to hold on for a 72-67 victory Monday night in front of 1,343.
It was the first home loss for USD since Feb. 1, 1986, when it lost to Loyola Marymount, 72-70. Last season, USD was 14-0 at home, but guard Danny Means is the lone returning starter from the team that went to the NCAA tournament.
San Diego's inexperience showed. USD (0-2) trailed UC Santa Barbara by 14 points at halftime and never caught up. The Toreros came within five points three times in the second half and closed within three with eight seconds left, but they never held the ball with a chance to tie the score in the second half.
USD shot only 32% from the field (7-22) in the first half and committed eight turnovers.
"We got off to a terrible start," said USD Coach Hank Egan, who remained relatively calm in the first half despite his team's performance. "I don't think if I screamed it would do a lot of good. There is a big difference between guys not doing what they're supposed to do and guys not knowing what they're supposed to do."
The second half was a different story. USD shot 62% from the floor and committed only three turnovers.
"The first half we played like five individuals," Egan said. "In the second half, we played like a basketball team."
USD scored 10 straight points to open the second half and suddenly trailed, 39-35, with 17:10 to play.
"We had a lot of people going in opposite directions in the first half," said Means, who led USD with 17 points. "We were more ready to play in the second half."
Midway through the second half, USD trailed, 51-43. With 2:13 to play, USD trailed, 61-56. The Toreros would have been even closer if it hadn't been for five three-pointers in the second half by sophomore guard Carrick DeHart, who finished with a game-high 22 points.
USD rallied on the outside shooting of Marty Munn (he scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half), eight second-half points by freshman forward Keith Colvin and steady play by forward Mike Haupt (15 points and a game-high 8 rebounds).
But the Gauchos (2-0) relied on working the clock and making foul shots. Santa Barbara made 24 of 31 free throws, and USD made 14 of 20.
One call really raised Egan's ire.
With 17 seconds remaining and USD trailing, 67-64, senior center Jim Pelton was called for an intentional foul on guard Brian Shaw as Shaw was attempting to pass from near midcourt.
"I thought the kid was going for the ball," Egan said.
"I was trying to send them to the free throw line, but I was just going for the ball," Pelton said.
Shaw made one shot, but because an intentional foul was called, the Gauchos also received the ball. With 16 seconds to play, Pelton fouled forward John Westbeld, who made two free throws to make it 70-64.
Munn hit a three-pointer to make it 70-67 with eight seconds to play, but that was the closest USD got. Santa Barbara guard Carlton Davenport scored on a layup at the buzzer.
"We have to play the way we played in the second half, and better if we're going to be a good basketball team," Egan said. "We've got a long way to go to become a good basketball team."