POMONA, Calif. - Despite a career-high 26 points from Christian Oshita, the University of California San Diego men's basketball team lost its season opener Friday, falling to Azusa Pacific, 70-62, on the first day of action at the CCAA/PacWest Challenge, hosted by Cal Poly Pomona.
APU led for a majority of the game (30:40). The Cougars scored the first 10 points of the contest, but the Tritons came back and were up by two, 36-34, at halftime. After shooting 60 percent in the opening stanza, UC San Diego went cold from the floor in the second half, making just nine of its 32 attempts, 28 percent. They were outscored 36-26 in the half.
"It was an up-and-down night for us," said UCSD head coach Eric Olen. "We did some good things, but didn't play with enough consistency to pull it out. Azusa made more plays down the stretch."
Oshita was 9-for-15 overall and 6-for-9 from behind the three-point line. He also hauled in a game-high 11 rebounds for his second career double-double. He also had three assists and a steal. The junior's previous career-best point total was 23.
UCSD, which shot 42 percent for the game, made 11 three-pointers and held a 36-33 advantage in total rebounds. The Tritons turned the ball over 19 times, which led to 23 points for Azusa Pacific.
APU had three players hit double-figure point totals including Darien McClain (18), Petar Kutlesic (14), and Selom Mawugbe (11). Kutlesic led the team on the boards with nine rebounds and McClain dished out five assists. Ben Taufahema had four steals.
The Cougars shot 42 percent overall and made eight three-pointers. They scored 26 points in the paint.
The Tritons' largest lead of the night was five when a three-pointer by Everman put them up 39-34 very early in the second half. After a trey by Oshita gave UCSD a 55-53 lead with 6:20 left in the game, the Cougars mounted an 11-0 run that moved them in front by nine points, 64-55, with just over two minutes remaining.
APU was 18-for-24 from the free-throw line, while UCSD was 3-for-8.
Friday's game was the season-opener for both squads.
UC San Diego plays its second and final CCAA/PacWest Challenge game Saturday as it takes on Dixie State at 5 p.m. Both UCSD and DSU are receiving votes in the NABC national poll.