SAN FRANCISCO--USF made multiple comebacks in the second half and a Cody Doolin three that ticked off the rim was the story of the night. Close but not close enough.
Despite shooting less than 30 percent in the second half, San Diego was able to weather the storm and remain undefeated in league play by beating San Francisco 70-66 Thursday night.
“They play really well with their crowd, as you can tell,” San Diego guard Johnny Dee said. “They came back in this game, the crowd got involved and they went on a run. Any time you can weather that run and stick with it, push through it and get a win, that’s huge.”
The win for San Diego (9-8, 2-0 West Coast Conference) snaps a six-game losing streak to San Francisco. They will host Pepperdine on Saturday at 7 p.m.
“I’m excited for our team to win on the road,” San Diego head coach Bill Grier said. “The wheels were coming off there in the second half where we just found a way to dig out he win and that’s all that really matters.”
A Doolin layup and free throw cut the lead to 68-66 with 27 seconds. On the ensuing inbounds, Matt Christensen stole the ball and passed it to Doolin for the game-tying three but it clanked off the rim and right to USD’s Cameron Miles.
Miles hit a pair of free throws to ice the game but was big throughout the second half. He scored a season-high 13 points, all in the second half.
“He was the main reason we won tonight,” Dee said. “He was huge coming off the bench. We really couldn’t find anyone to score.”
San Diego went up 52-42 on a Dee three and the Dons went on a 10-1 run, with five each from Dickerson and Tim Derksen, to make it a one-point game.
“You got to understand when you come into USF, you get off to a lead in the first half they always come back strong,” Miles said. “They always do.”
The Toreros charged back and consecutive threes from Miles pushed their lead back to seven.
“Cameron’s having a really good senior year for us,” Grier said. “I think he’s playing with a lot of poise right now. He’s made some big plays for us in these last three games to help us win these.”
San Diego shot a dismal 28 percent in the second half but found a way to win and it gives Miles some confidence.
“I think we’re playing pretty good but I think we have a bigger leap to take,” Miles said. “We played better than this last season at the end of the season.”
Doolin did just about everything for San Francisco. The junior guard scored a game-high 19 points and had five assists.
“I think if you look at their game at Santa Clara, they were down 19 and cut it to two,” Grier said. “I think a big part of that is Doolin. I think Doolin’s as good of a guard as anyone in the league… He’s hard to handle.”
San Francisco (7-9, 0-3) has been the tough luck team, having lost eight of their last 10 games with seven of those losses by 10 or fewer points.
“We’ve been in every game but one,” San Francisco head coach Rex Walters said. “But we don’t understand the little things yet.”
The Dons travel to Moraga to face Saint Mary’s on Saturday at 8 p.m.
With the score tied at 17, San Diego began to find its rhythm.
Back-to-back threes from John Sinis got the Toreros going as they outscored San Francisco 16-4 during its run, taking a 33-21 lead.
Anderson and Dee had their had in much of the offense and either made or assisted in 11 of San Diego’s 17 baskets.
San Diego took its largest lead at 41-28 on a three from Dee, who had 13 points in the half and a team-high 17 for the game.
The Toreros were 8-for-13 from three and shot 60.7 percent from the field in the half.
Dickerson and Doolin kept San Francisco in striking distance by scoring the team’s final nine points of the half.
De’End Parker returned to action after missing one game with a lingering wrist injury. He entered with 14:11 left in the first half but played just seven minutes while going 0-for-4 from the field.
“He’s a little lost,” Walters said. “You lose your spot, then you press. We just want him to play basketball. We want him to shoot open shots, we want him to draw two, kick, and we want him to guard. If he does that, he’ll play a lot more.”
Follow Zack Farmer on Twitter: @Zack_Farmer