The streaking Pioneers pounded the South Alabama Jaguars 69-56 Saturday afternoon at Magness Arena to go 5-0 after an opening loss. A sparse Magness holiday crowd watched the win.
The game started out even with South Alabama playing the ball low. South Alabama's Georgi Boyanov started with the hot hand but Bryant Rucker's 14 points pushed the Pioneers to a 10+ lead and eventual 34-20 halftime lead.
Poor shooting by the Jaguars could not keep pace with DU's efficient Princeton inside-out offense. The Pioneers out rebounded the Jaguars by 6 boards at half but had a number of uncharacteristic turnovers. Joe Rosga played almost the entire half and was dynamic on both ends of the floor - and lead all squads with 5 rebounds. C.J Bobbitt had the flu and had limited playing time.
South Alabama started the second half pressuring full court but their cold shooting continued. Rosga drives to the hoop continued to do damage to USA and extend the lead to 24 points. A technical on USA's Nick Stover at 8:10 remaining showed the frustration of a team unable to come untracked with missed shots, turnovers, and charges against the pesky Pioneers.
A USA in-bound trap cut the lead to 14 points with 5 minutes to go but DU broke the press open after several turnovers to extend the lead. Relentless pressure, steals and traps helped USA take the score to single digits with a minute to go. Denver stayed calm, stopped turning the ball over, hit free throws and closed out the game.
Marcus Byrd played big minutes and added veteran leadership, inside toughness and 16 points to compliment strong performances from Rosga, Engesser, and Rucker.