LA JOLLA, Calif. - Christian Hatch
finished with game-highs of 19 points and seven rebounds, while Tyler McGrath
and Mike Meza
scored 16 points apiece to lead the UC San Diego men's basketball team to an 81-67 victory over Dixie State in a nonconference matchup on Sunday afternoon at RIMAC Arena.
The Tritons shot 52% from the field and connected on 8-of-15 from the three-point line to snap a three-game losing streak and earn their first victory since November 19. UCSD, which looked very sharp following an eight-day layoff for final exams, improves to 4-4 on the season with the win, while Dixie State drops to 4-3 with the loss.
After averaging just over 53 points on 36% shooting in losses to Cal State San Bernardino, Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State L.A. in its previous three games, UCSD regained its form against the Red Storm on Sunday. The Tritons hit seven of their first nine shots to build an early 15-point lead and never looked back, leading by as many as 25 on the way to their first home win of the season.
"When we have good practices and focus in our preparation, we expect to have success," head coach Chris Carlson said. "Today we performed well in many areas and yet we still have much to improve upon. Overall, we had a good effort and we have to build on that."
UCSD converted 28-of-54 shots for the game, including 16-of-31 in the decisive first half. The Tritons were dialed in from downtown early on as well, finishing 6-for-10 in the opening period.
Hatch, who averaged just 7.0 points on 38% shooting during UCSD's losing streak, bounced back on Sunday, finishing 7-of-12 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line in just 24 minutes of work. He scored 13 of his points in the second half, as the Tritons put the game away.
McGrath finished 4-of-8 from the field and 2-of-4 from the three-point line. He also finished with seven boards, three assists and a pair of steals. Meza hit 5-of-8 shots, including 3-of-4 from downtown, in just 13 minutes off the bench. He scored 11 points in the first half to stake the Tritons to an early lead.
Hatch, McGrath and Meza combined to score 51 of the Tritons' 81 points in the game.
Derek Owens scored 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting off the bench to lead the Red Storm, while De'Quan Thompson hit all five of his shots and finished with 13. Dixie State shot just under 39%, converting 26-of-67 attempts from the field.
It was all UCSD early on as the Tritons raced out to a 17-2 lead with 13:41 remaining in the first half. The Red Storm came back to cut the deficit to just five at 26-21 on a layup by Solomon Jensen, but MacKenzie McCullough answered with a big three for UCSD on the other end to push it back to eight with 4:48 left in the period.
After a triple by McKay Massey brought DSC to within 34-26 less than three minutes later, Meza followed with a three of his own and then hit a jumper to give UCSD a 39-26 lead at the break.
The Tritons started the second half much like they started the game, outscoring the Red Storm 16-4 over the first five minutes of the period to take a commanding 55-30 advantage with 14:46 left to play.
Dixie State followed with a 14-4 run of its own to pull within 15 at 59-44 with just under nine minutes left, but Hatch hit a pair of free throws and then converted a three-point play to stem the tide and push the Triton advantage back to 20 (66-44).
UCSD's lead would not dip below 12 points the rest of the way.
The Tritons will resume California Collegiate Athletic Association play on Monday, December 19 when they wrap up their season series with Cal State San Bernardino at Coussoulis Arena. CSUSB defeated UCSD 66-63 in double overtime on November 22 at RIMAC.