UCSD held a six-point lead with four and a half minutes to play, but HSU closed the game on a 14-4 run to send the Tritons to their fourth defeat in five games. Justin Brue scored 18 points to lead four players in double figures for UCSD, but it wasn't enough, as the Tritons couldn't slow down the potent Lumberjack offense down the stretch.
Humboldt State improves to 18-7 overall and 14-7 in the CCAA with the win, bouncing back after suffering back-to-back losses to San Francisco State and Cal Poly Pomona last week. The Lumberjacks are currently tied with Cal Poly Pomona for second place in the conference standings with one regular season game remaining.
UC San Diego drops to 10-16 on the year and 6-15 in conference play, falling for the second time in five days after defeating Cal State Monterey Bay, 80-67, in Seaside on Friday. The Tritons are now 3-13 all-time against the Lumberjacks, losing their previous six matchups with HSU.
Hunter was a hand full all night for UCSD, finishing 8-of-19 from the floor and 6-of-8 at the free throw line to pace the CCAA's top-ranked offensive unit. He scored nine points in the final 4:16 to lead the Humboldt rally.
In addition to Hunter's exploits, the Lumberjacks also got 12 points apiece from Matt Lipski and Austin Bryan off the bench.
Brue had one of his best games of the season in a losing effort for the Tritons, finishing with his highest scoring total since he put in a season-high 19 in a home win over Cal State Monterey Bay on January 14. The junior forward hit 9-of-18 from the field and also tallied seven boards and two blocks.
James McCann scored 12 points, grabbed four boards and dished out six assists, while Christian Hatch scored 11 points and hauled down a game-high eight rebounds. MacKenzie McCullough finished with 11 points, four boards and three assists.
The Triton starters outscored the Lumberjacks' first unit 59-39, but HSU held a decisive 33-9 edge in bench scoring. UCSD shot 49% (27-55) from the field, while Humboldt State finished at 41% (26-64).
The game was close throughout with neither team leading by more than six points. The Tritons trailed by three twice in the early stages of the second half, but came back to grab a 64-58 edge following a triple by Mike Meza and a free throw from Colin Porter with 4:34 remaining.
The Lumberjacks answered with seven of the next nine points - five of which came from Hunter - to close to within 66-65 with 1:41 left to play. McCann hit a pair of foul shots to give UCSD a three-point cushion, but Hunter came back with two of his own and then scored inside to give HSU the lead for good, 69-68.
The Tritons coughed the ball up on their final two possessions and Bryan and Scott combined to hit three free throws in the waning moments to seal the win for the home team.
UCSD was in control for much of the opening period, but HSU rallied to take a 31-25 advantage with 3:44 left to play in the half. McCullough answered with a dunk and Tyler McGrath followed with a three-point play to bring the Tritons back to within 31-30 and Humboldt State led by the same margin at the break (33-32).
UCSD will look to wrap up the season on a winning note on Friday evening against Sonoma State. The Seawolves had won eight of nine before falling to Cal State San Bernardino, 77-70, on Wednesday in Rohnert Park. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at The Woves' Den on the SSU campus.