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USF cruises in West Coast Conference tourney opener

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Rashad Green (13), who finished with 19 points, looks for help after going airborne in Thursday’s win. - ETHAN MILLER/GETTY IMAGES
  • Ethan Miller/Getty Images
  • Rashad Green (13), who finished with 19 points, looks for help after going airborne in Thursday’s win.

Angelo Caloiaro and Rashad Green each scored 19 points and the fifth-seeded USF men’s basketball team used a hot first half to rout eighth-seeded Portland 87-66 in the second round of the West Coast Conference tournament in Las Vegas.

Green had 13 points and Caloiaro 12 as the Dons shot 56.2 percent (18-of-32) to grab a 51-32 lead at halftime. Perris Blackwell scored 10 of his 15 points in the first half for USF (19-12), which will face fourth-seeded Loyola Marymount, which had a bye into the quarterfinals, today at 6 p.m.

The Pilots, who were coming off a 74-70 win over Santa Clara on Wednesday, finish their season at 7-24.

“I thought our guys came out really aggressive and focused,” Dons coach Rex Walters said. “Portland came out early and did a good job handling some of the things we tried to do defensively. They have a good, young team.

“I thought Angelo and Rashad were really good. Hats off to Portland. It’s hard to play back-to-back nights, but winning is hard and we have that challenge tomorrow.”

USF cooled off in the second half, but still finished shooting 50.8 percent (31-of-61). The Dons were deadly from 3-point range, shooting 47.8 percent (11-of-23). Portland, meanwhile, shot just 39.7 percent (35-of-63) overall.

“I thought we were playing pretty good basketball in the last three games of the season,” Caloiaro said. “We played the three toughest teams in our conference and we had a chance to win all of them. It came to just a couple of little things. We like what we’re doing but we just want to do things a little better.”

The Dons dropped both games to Loyola Marymount during the WCC regular season, but they were by a combined three points.