LOS ANGELES - Cal State L.A. scored the final six points of the game to come from behind and earn a tight 71-70 victory over UC San Diego in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) action Friday night at The Eagles' Nest.
With the loss, UCSD dropped to 14-11 overall and 10-11 in the CCAA. The Tritons will need to win Saturday night at Cal State Dominguez Hills and hope for a San Francisco State loss in order to claim a spot in the six-team CCAA Tournament, which will be held March 6-8 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif.
"We played with a lot of heart tonight," said UCSD head coach Eric Olen. "It's disappointing to not get the result we wanted, but our guys should be proud of the way they competed. I know I am."
CSULA upped its season mark to 15-10. With a 12-9 record in the league, the Golden Eagles have clinched a berth in the CCAA Tournament.
An Adam Klie layup with 2:32 remaining in the game put UCSD up by five, 70-65. However, the Tritons were held scoreless the rest of the way.
On UCSD's next two possessions, James McCann was blocked by James Tillman. A layup by Quinton Watkins with exactly one minute left brought the score to 70-69 in favor of the Tritons. UCSD missed a jumper and then fouled Duce Zaid with seven seconds on the clock. Zaid drained both free throws to give Cal State L.A. its winning points. McCann drove for a final layup, but it came off the rim at the buzzer.
Four Tritons finished with double-digit point totals including McCann (15), Klie (14), Hunter Walker (13) and Treavon Francis, who totaled a career-high 11. Francis also added a team-best seven rebounds, also a career-high.
For the Golden Eagles, Zaid led all players with 26 points. He was 8-for-11 from the field and 9-for-10 from the free throw line. Watkins followed with 19 points, Joshua Munzon had 11 points and Solomon Singer grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Tritons out-shot the Golden Eagles 52 percent to 42 percent and hit at an impressive 64 percent clip in the opening half. CSULA held a 38 to 26 advantage in rebounding, including a 17-5 lead on the offensive side.
UCSD led by as many as seven points several times in the game and as late as the 6:23 point of the second half. CSULA's largest lead of the night was five. The score was tied on eight occasions and the lead changed 12 times in the game.
The Tritons led by two points, 35-33, at halftime.
UCSD entered the night tied with San Francisco State for sixth place in the CCAA. The Gators recorded a convincing 81-57 home victory against Cal State East Bay Friday to take a one game lead over the Tritons in the race for the final slot in the conference tournament. UCSD holds the tiebreaker over SFSU if both teams were to finish the regular season with identical 11-11 league marks.
UC San Diego takes on Cal State Dominguez Hills (7-21, 4-17) in Carson Saturday. The Toros, who are not in contention for a tourney spot, lost to Cal State San Bernardino Friday by a score of 81-75. The Tritons dominated CSUDH in La Jolla back in January, taking an 80-59 win.
San Francisco State hosts Cal State Monterey Bay (10-14, 8-13) Saturday. The Otters were 79-69 winners against Sonoma State Friday night. Earlier in the season, CSUMB earned a 78-72 win over SFSU in Seaside.