SAN DIEGO (AP) — Trailing Colorado by eight points with 12 minutes to go was no big deal for the San Diego Toreros, particularly senior forward Isaiah Pineiro.
Pineiro scored 15 of his 27 points in the final nine minutes, including the go-ahead slam dunk with 1:31 left, and San Diego beat the Buffaloes 70-64 on Tuesday night.
Olin Carter III added 22 for the Toreros (4-1), who beat the Buffaloes (2-1) for the second straight year. They won 69-59 last season at Boulder.
While Pineiro came on strong, first-year USD coach Sam Scholl said it was a team effort.
“It shows our mental toughness, our resolve, and then if we just keep sticking together, just keep staying the course, trusting our principles and our disciplines, good things are going to happen,” Scholl said.
Colorado went on a 12-0 run and took a 45-37 lead with 12:15 to go after redshirt freshman Evan Battey hit a bank shot. Battey finished with 18 points.
Pineiro, a senior, started his run with a 3-pointer to pull the Toreros to 50-46 with 8:50 left. He hit another 3-pointer and then converted a three-point play to tie it at 54 with 5:55 left.
The Toreros took the lead at 56-54 when Carter fed Yauhen Massalski for a slam dunk with 5:27 to go.
Colorado jumped ahead 61-60 on two free throws by McKinley Wright with 1:56 left before Pineiro’s slam dunk put the Toreros ahead for good.
“My teammates got me some good, open looks and I just knocked them down,” Pineiro said. “We just played each other.”
The Toreros are playing four Pac-12 teams before they open West Coast Conference play.
“It’s a great feeling,” Pineiro said. “It’s just a testament to the WCC. It’s a good conference and it’s getting better. Us, San Diego, we’re getting better every year. We can compete with them.”
Said Scholl: “It feels good, because they’re good, and they’re well-coached.”
USD made all eight of its free throws in the final 59 seconds.
Wright scored 14 for Colorado.
“San Diego had a lot to do with that,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said of the Buffaloes losing the eight-point lead. “They’re a quality team with veteran players and they don’t get rattled. They’re not a team that’s going to beat themselves. Really, what it comes down to, when you’re up eight and the lead gets shrunk, you’re not getting stops.”
USD went just 1 of 12 from the field and committed three turnovers in the first seven minutes of the second half, allowing Colorado to go from a 35-30 halftime deficit to a 43-37 lead. Battey made a bank shot and had a three-point play.
USD closed the gap on a three-point play by Alex Floresca and 3-pointers by Pineiro and Carter
USD scored the last five points of the first half to take a 35-30 lead. Massalski converted a three-point play and Pineiro banked in a shot just before the buzzer.
Massalski had 14 rebounds.
Colorado: Battey had an impressive game after making his CU debut with eight points in a victory against Drake on Nov. 13. He didn’t score in a victory against Omaha three days later.
San Diego: The Toreros are playing four Pac-12 teams in the span of 11 games. They lost 66-63 at Washington on Nov. 12 and will play at Oregon on Dec. 12 and face Washington State in the Las Vegas Classic on Dec. 22.
Colorado is at Air Force on Saturday.
San Diego hosts Jackson State on Saturday night.
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