A Dec. 4, 2009 game between the University of San Diego and the University of California, Riverside has drawn suspicion in light of Monday’s federal indictment of two former USD players and a former assistant coach on sports betting charges.
Brandon Johnson, USD’s all-time leader in scoring and assists, and Brandon Dowdy, who transferred from San Diego to UC-Riverside after the 2007 season, are the two players named in the indictment. Along with ex-assistant coach Thaddeus Brown and seven other people, Johnson and Dowdy are charged with running a sports betting business and offering bribes to affect the outcomes of games.
Federal authorities did not specify which games they believe were compromised and said they are still trying to determine how many games were affected. The indictment charges that Johnson took a bribe to influence a game in Feb. 2010 and tried to persuade an unnamed player this January to fix a game.
However, after the indictment was announced, speculation around the sports betting community in Las Vegas and offshore centered on the San Diego-Riverside game in 2009.
San Diego opened as a 2-point road favorite. According to Covers.com's line archives, the game featured rapid line movement at each of the 11 offshore sportsbooks recorded. By tipoff, Riverside was favored by 1-point at most books.
San Diego jumped out to a 40-24 lead in the first half and led by 19 with 13:14 to play, before Riverside mounted a comeback. After shooting 50 percent in the first half, the Toreros shot 24 percent, made only three field goals and scored just 15 points in the second half. San Diego went scoreless for more than 12 minutes as its lead evaporated.
Riverside took the lead, 57-55, with 30 seconds to play on a pair of free throws by Dwight Gordon.
After a Torero timeout, Johnson was called for traveling, turning the ball back over to Riverside with 8.3 seconds remaining. The Toreros fouled, and Gordon made one of two free throws to push the lead to 58-55. Johnson attempted a 3-pointer from the corner as time expired, but was short, and Riverside prevailed by three, covering the 1-point spread.
Johnson went 2 of 10 for the game, including 0 for 5 from beyond the 3-point arc. He committed all three of his turnovers in the second half and was called for a technical foul with five minutes to play.
Dowdy, who started for Riverside, was 1-for-4 from the field, including 0-for-3 on 3-pointers.
Nevada sportsbooks didn’t see as much line movement as the offshore books did on the 2009 San Diego-Riverside game. And Jay Kornegay, executive director of the Las Vegas Hilton sportsbook, told Covers.com that he had not received any unusual betting patterns on games involving San Diego in Feb. 2010.
“We didn’t see anything up here," said Kornegay. “With such a small school involved that normally doesn’t receive a lot of attention; any significant action (bets) probably would have shown up. We didn’t notice any unusual betting patterns on their games. I’ve talked to a few other directors and they didn’t see anything."
However, according to the indictment, one of the men charged, Paul Joseph Thweni and another individual placed bets at a Las Vegas casino on a San Diego game in February 2010. U.S. Attorney Linda Duffy did not identify the opponent, but did say Johnson was the starting point guard at the time.
San Diego went 1-6 last February, failing to cover the spread in six of seven games. Johnson did not start at Portland (Feb. 6) or at Gonzaga (Feb. 13), both losses.
He began the month scoring 25 points in a 72-70 overtime loss to San Francisco on Feb. 4. The next game he finished with just six points in a 59-43 home loss to Santa Clara on Feb. 6. San Diego was an 8-point favorite against Santa Clara.