CARSON, Calif. - Surging in its offense during the second half with five players scoring in double figures for the game, the UC San Diego men's basketball team pulled ahead of Cal State Dominguez Hills and held off the Toros to win, 69-62, on Friday at Torodome.
"I am extremely proud of our effort in what was a very hotly-contested game," said Tritons head coach Chris Carlson. "You have to credit Dominguez Hills. They did a great job of disrupting us in the first half, but we made some adjustments in the second and got some great performances, especially from our front line. We showed a ton of heart."
The Tritons improve to 7-9 overall and 6-7 in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play. UCSD will close the book on its six-game road trip at Cal State L.A. (10-7, 7-6 CCAA) in a game slated for a 7:30 p.m. start time on Saturday and will be broadcast on ESPN Radio 1700.
Leading the charge for the Tritons was junior guard James McCann, who scored a game-high 16 points and had six rebounds and three assists.
Senior forward Justin Brue and senior forward/center Colin Porter both earned double-doubles for their performances. Brue finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and a share of the game-high two blocks while Porter ended with 12 points, 10 rebounds, one assist and a block. In addition, senior guard Tyler McGrath and freshman forward/guard Drew Dyer each had 10 points and two assists. McGrath also had three rebounds, and Dyer had five rebounds and a steal.
Senior guard Myron Green led the Toros with his 13 points to go along with three rebounds, two assists and a share of the game-high two blocks. Green was supported by junior guard Deon Geary, who ended with 11 points and one rebound.
Both teams shot well from the field. UCSD hit 21 of 48 (43.8%) compared to the Toros' 22-for-50 (44%) performance from the paint. Although CSUDH was better from three-point range with its 10-for-14 effort (71.4%) than the Tritons' 7-for-21 (33.3%) showing, the game was decided at the free-throw line. UCSD nailed 20 of 25 (80%) at the line, 12 more than the Toros' 8-for-14 (57.1%) result from the same area. Also, UCSD committed only 12 fouls, nine fewer than CSUDH's 21.
Things started to turn in the Tritons' favor right from the first bucket just 19 seconds into the second half, when McCann successfully completed a four-point play upon draining a three-pointer while being fouled and hitting his free throw to give the Tritons a 34-32 lead. Though junior guard Steffon Neal tied the game, 34-34, with a layup at the 18:05 mark, a trey from senior guard Ryan Peters on the next possession broke the stalemate and pulled the Tritons ahead, 37-34.
With a three-point, 42-39 lead and 14:15 left in the game, the Tritons went on a 7-0 run that began with McGrath's pair of free throws to extend the lead to five. The run ended when Brue sank a free throw, 49-39, with 12:22 to go in regulation.
UCSD later went on a 6-0 run, which lasted just 50 seconds, in which Brue scored the first three points and Dyer contributed the last three on a trey to cap off the run at the 6:20 mark with an 11-point, 60-49 lead, the second instance in the game in which the advantage reached that high.
The Toros then came alive, however, scoring eight unanswered points to trim the Tritons' lead to three, 60-57, with only 1:19 to play in the game. But McGrath's trey at the 1:02 reading doubled the lead back to six, making the score, 63-57. Following a jumper by Daley on the next possession with 42 seconds left, McCann hit four clutch free-throw attempts to lengthen the lead to eight points, 67-59, with only 12 seconds before the final buzzer.
Neal's trey cut the lead to five, 67-62, with eight seconds remaining, but Dyer made both of his attempts in the final second of the game to seal the victory.
Though UCSD was able to maintain its lead once it was acquired in the second half, keeping it in the first half proved to be a little more difficult for the Tritons.
Already up, 4-3, with 16:50 to go in the first half, the Tritons went on a 7-0 run that was ended on a trey by McCann at the 15:10 mark to give UCSD an 11-3 lead. This immediately preceded a 9-0 Toros run, which netted the lead for CSUDH, 12-11, on junior guard Alex Strauther's three-pointer at the 12:50 reading to signify the first of three lead changes in just over a minute.
CSUDH led by as many as five points, 21-16, with 8:43 left to play in the first half when senior forward Ryan Jefferson made a three-pointer. However, the Tritons proceeded to tie the score three times before eventually reclaiming the lead, 29-27, for a short period of time on Dyer's jumper at the 3:20 mark.
Tied for the fifth time in the half with a score of 30-30 after Dyer sank a free throw with 1:33 before halftime, Green dunked the ball with 1:11 to go, giving the Toros a 32-30 advantage, which they took into the intermission.
The Toros (10-10, 6-7 CCAA) conclude their homestand playing host to the Coyotes of Cal State San Bernardino (13-3, 11-2 CCAA) on Saturday in a game set to begin at 7:30 p.m.
-- UCSDtritons.com --