SAN DIEGO — It didn't take long for Hank Egan to realize he had made a bad decision by penciling in the University of Puget Sound on his nonconference schedule.
"As soon as I hung up with him (Puget Sound Coach Don Zech) I said it was a mistake," said Egan, the University of San Diego men's basketball coach. "I had a bad feeling it was going to be like this."
USD beat Puget Sound, 71-66, Monday night in the USD Sports Center, but the Toreros had to struggle against their NCAA Division II opponent.
After trading the lead in the second half, USD took the lead for good, 56-54, on a Mike Haupt field goal from inside the key with 8:04 left. The Toreros outscored the Loggers, 9-5, in the final three minutes to seal the victory. All nine points came from the free-throw line. USD, which started three freshmen, is to 2-2. Puget Sound, which beat Big Sky power Boise State last week, 64-60, is 2-4.
The biggest obstacle for the Toreros Monday night was trying to break Puget Sound's swarming, full-court press. USD committed 15 turnovers against the Loggers' press.
"I thought it was a mess," Egan said, describing his team's performance against the press. "I can't smile after saying that because it was a mess. . . . We couldn't tell what they were doing."
Egan blames a lack of organization for his team's confused play against the defense designed by Zech, who is in his 21st year of coaching.
"They were so well-coached, I felt like somebody had me around the throat all night," Egan said.
USD guard Danny Means, who had 13 points, including 7 of 8 free throws, said, "We were really confused the whole game. I don't think we ever got organized."
After trailing, 33-31, at halftime, USD opened the second half with four quick points, then scored in spurts for the remainder of the game. The score was tied on six occasions in the first five minutes of the second half.
Both teams were without key players for most of the game. The Toreros' Keith Colvin left with 13:30 remaining in the first half with a sprained right ankle. He is doubtful for Saturday's game against Boise State.
Puget Sound's starting center Jay Brewer, the Loggers' leading scorer with a 20-points-per-game average, sat down with his fourth foul with 14:27 left. He re-entered the game with 2:32 remaining, but was ineffective. Brewer finished 0 for 4 from the field, shut out by the Toreros.
USD led for most of the first half, but Puget Sound, which made 14 of 18 free throws, took the lead at halftime.
Puget Sound took its first lead with 9:46 left in the half when freshman guard Maurice Selvin sank two free throws to give the Loggers a 15-14 advantage. A minute later, Selvin hit two more free throws to increase the margin to 17-14.
USD, which got off to a 4-0 lead, moved ahead, 19-18, on Marty Munn's three pointer at the top of the key with 7:06 left in the half.
Puget Sound's Jack Forney had 10 points in the first half, including a 4-of-4 performance at the line.
USD was led by Marty Munn's 18 points, including 2 of 6 three-point attempts.
Puget Sound's Jack Forney led all scorers with 23 points.
As for scheduling Puget Sound again, Egan said: "This was the first time and maybe the last. I mean that as a compliment to their coach."
Said Zech: "We've had some success recently against Division I schools. If he (Egan) was smart, he would have played us sometime in the last few years."