SEASIDE, Calif. - Coming into The Kelp Bed on Friday to begin its longest road trip of the season, the UC San Diego men's basketball team overcame a double-digit deficit and defeated Cal State Monterey Bay, 63-58.
The Tritons improve to 4-8 overall and 3-6 in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play. UCSD will travel to Pioneer Gym to play Cal State East Bay (5-8, 4-5 CCAA) on Saturday in a contest set to tip off at 7:30 p.m.
"It was a great effort tonight against a very good team," said UCSD head coach Chris Carlson. "We got stops when we really needed them most and got good contributions from everyone."
Senior guard Tyler McGrath led the way for the Tritons with his game-high 20 points. McGrath also had four rebounds, two assists and a steal. Junior guard James McCann also put up big numbers with 16 points to go along with a share of the game-high three assists and a steal.
Otters senior guard Brandon Ward scored a team-high 18 points and had one rebound and three assists. Putting up double-digit figures as well were freshman guard Alex Fertig and senior forward Kevin Loustale, with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Fertig also had four rebounds and a steal while Loustale had a share of the game-high eight rebounds and a steal.
Despite shooting a decent 19-for-47 (40.4%) performance from the field for the game, the Otters went 24-for-53 (45.3%) from the paint. However, the Tritons won the game on the quality of their field goals.
For the game, UCSD made nine of 27 (33.3%) three-point attempts while holding the Otters to an abysmal 0-for-14 performance from behind the arc. In addition, UCSD outperformed CSUMB at the free-throw line, going 16-for-20 (80%) while the Otters went 10-for-17 (58.8%).
UCSD entered the second half with an eight-point, 39-31 lead. There were multiple moments in which the Otters appeared to be on the verge of coming back throughout the closing 20 minutes, but clutch shots by the Tritons prevented the Otters from ever completing that objective.
The Tritons' closest call occurred in the final minutes of the game. Following McGrath's three-pointer to return UCSD's lead back to eight, 58-50, the Otters went on a 6-0 run, which ended on Ward's layup at the 1:15 mark to bring CSUMB within a field goal, 58-56. However, a pair of free throws by McCann and one from senior forward/center Colin Porter returned the UCSD lead to five with 14 seconds left.
A layup by Ward cut the lead to 61-58 with nine seconds to go. Fortunately, McGrath was fouled immediately on the next possession in an effort to stop the clock, and the Camarillo native took full advantage by nailing both of his free throws to bring the Tritons' advantage to a score of 63-58.
The first half featured a great scoring drought for the Otters and a grand scoring run for the Tritons.
Midway through the first half, the Tritons saw their deficit grow from four to 10 in just two minutes. The 6-0 run was concluded by Loustale's tip-in to make the score, 19-9, with 10:01 remaining in the first half. Loustale made the lead as large as 12 points, 25-13, at the 8:14 mark with a jumper.
McGrath then scored four of six unanswered points during a 6-0 run to cut the Otters' lead in half, which ended on his successful trip to the free-throw line and made the score, 25-19, with 6:02 left in the half. But back-to-back jumpers by Loustale and Ward at the 5:48 and 5:28 readings, respectively, grew the lead to 10.
Facing the 10-point, 29-19 deficit, the Tritons went on a phenomenal 20-0 run, which included five three-pointers and a dunk by junior guard/forward MacKenzie McCullough. The run was kicked off by freshman forward/guard Drew Dyer's three-pointer at the 4:51 mark, which made the score, 29-22.
McGrath highlighted the run with his back-to-back treys, which signified the run's last six points. The latter trey occurred with 33 seconds left in the first half and gave the Tritons a 39-29 lead.
Junior forward Julian Ball's layup just four seconds before the halftime buzzer cut the Otters' deficit to eight points, 39-31.
"Road wins in this league are not easy," said Carlson. "We have to get ready for the next challenge."
-- UCSDtritons.com --