LA JOLLA, Calif. - In spite of a thrilling second half, the UC San Diego men's basketball team suffered a 61-54 defeat to Cal State L.A. at RIMAC Arena on Friday.
With the loss, the Tritons drop to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play. UCSD will return to RIMAC Arena on Saturday to face Cal State Dominguez Hills (4-4, 1-1) at 7:30 p.m.
Junior guard James McCann led all scorers with 18 points to go along with four rebounds and six assists. Senior guard Tyler McGrath scored 15 points and had five rebounds, two assists and two steals while sophomore center/forward Brandon Blanchard contributed 10 points, a team-high eight rebounds and an assist.
The Golden Eagles were led by freshman guard Joshua Munzon and junior forward James Tillman, who both had 16 points. Munzon also had seven rebounds, five assists and two steals, and Tillman grabbed six rebounds.
Both teams had 12 points on turnovers and 10 points off the bench. However, the Golden Eagles scored three times as many points in the paint, 24-8.
Down just a point going into the second half, the Tritons attempted to rectify the situation. Each side scored a field goal to begin the closing half, but with the score, 30-29 in favor of CSULA, the Tritons retook the lead when McCann sunk a three-pointer at the 15:55 mark to give UCSD a 32-30 advantage and was the first of six lead changes in the final 20 minutes.
McCann was also responsible for giving the Tritons their final lead change when he hit a trey and a layup less than a minute later to give UCSD a 44-40 lead with 9:07 remaining. Unfortunately, this proved to be the last Triton basket for nearly four minutes during which the Golden Eagles punished the Tritons with an 8-0 run to flip the four-point differential in their favor.
CSULA caused the all-important final lead change when Munzon drilled a three-pointer with 7:22 to go, giving the Golden Eagles a 46-44 lead which they did not surrender.
Senior guard Ryan Peters ended the UCSD scoring drought at the free-throw line, making both of his attempts and trimmed the deficit to two points, 48-46, with 5:22 to spare in regulation.
With only nine seconds left in the game, Blanchard made UCSD's final points on a jumper and made the score, 59-54.
After more than two minutes with no score to begin the game, Peters gave the Tritons the lead upon draining a three-pointer to end a scoreless tie at the 17:39 mark.
The Tritons maintained a comfortable lead going into the final media timeout of the first half, 24-16, with 4:43 left before the half, but the Golden Eagles finished out the half with a 12-0 scoring run, capped off by Tillman's layup with 29 seconds remaining.
Blanchard stopped the UCSD scoring drought with his three-pointer with 12 seconds left in the half, and the Tritons went into the intermission, trailing 28-27.
The Golden Eagles (2-2, 1-1 CCAA) will travel to Cal State San Bernardino (2-1, 2-0 CCAA) for a Saturday contest, tipping off at 7:30 p.m.
-- UCSDtritons.com --