LA JOLLA, Calif. - After earning back-to-back victories for the first time this season, the UC San Diego men's basketball team played a hard-fought contest with Cal State Stanislaus, but in the end, fell to the Warriors, 77-67, on Saturday at RIMAC Arena.
The Tritons drop to 3-8 overall and 2-6 against California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) teams. UCSD begins its longest road trip of the season with a game against Cal State Monterey Bay (7-8, 3-5 CCAA) on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Sophomore center/forward Brandon Blanchard scored a career-high 19 points to lead all Tritons. Blanchard also shared the team-high in rebounds with six. Junior guard James McCann and senior guard Tyler McGrath scored 14 and 12 points, respectively. McCann additionally had two rebounds and a steal.
Senior guard Ray Mitchell scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Warriors while leading all players with eight rebounds. Senior forward Nick Hodge contributed 17 points, including 11 in the second half, to go along with four rebounds and an assist.
The Warriors won the game on their second-half shooting. While the Tritons shot better in the first half, making 11 of 26 (42.3%) from the paint compared to the Warriors' eight of 26 (30.8%) performance, CSUS's shooting jumped significantly in the second half. During the second half, the Warriors went 15-for-23 (65.2%) from the field while UCSD's 9-for-23 (39.1%) second-half performance proved too little to keep pace with the Warriors.
Though up by a considerable 10-point, 34-24 lead at the half, the Warriors chipped away at the lead and eventually tied the game, 44-44, on a three-pointer by Mitchell with 10:51 left in regulation.
With the score in favor of the Tritons, 46-44, at the 9:44 mark, Mitchell then hit a trey to give the Warriors a 47-46 lead, the first CSUS lead since the closing minutes of the first half.
Freshman forward/guard Drew Dyer later evened the score, 51-51, upon hitting both of his free throws with 6:36 remaining in the game. But on the next CSUS possession, Hodge made a jumper to give the Warriors a 53-51 lead with 6:17 left to go and kicked off an 11-0 run that the Tritons could not overcome. A pair of free throws by senior guard Marcus Walters capped the run at the 3:32 mark.
The Warriors led by as many as 13 twice in the closing minutes. The latter 13-point lead was reached on junior guard Marcellus Pullum's successful trip to the free-throw line with 30 seconds left in the game, making the score, 76-63. Down by 12 points, 77-65, with five seconds before the final buzzer, junior guard Matt Bailey scored the game's last basket on a layup, making the score, 77-67.
Although the game was won by the Warriors, the first half belonged to the Tritons. Though down by a field goal early, 4-2, McCann hit a three-pointer, which resulted in the game's first lead change at the 16:32 mark to put the Tritons ahead, 5-4, while commencing a 9-0 run. The run was ended on a three-pointer by Dyer, 13:00 before the half.
CSUS came back though with an 8-0 run, which was concluded on a jumper by Pullum at the 5:03 mark to give the Warriors a 22-19 advantage. However, the Tritons did not back down. With 2:28 to go before the intermission, Bailey sank both of his free throws, which not only tied the game at 24-24 but also began a 12-0 run which the Tritons rode all the way into halftime. A layup by Bailey bookended the run with two seconds remaining.
For the game, UCSD's bench was productive and outscored the Warriors' bench, 31-13. Out those 31 points, 19 were scored in the first half compared to five by the Warriors in the same frame.
The Warriors (6-6, 3-5 CCAA) will continue their road trip on Friday at Cal State Dominguez Hills (8-7, 4-4 CCAA) with a contest set to begin at 7:30 p.m.
-- UCSDtritons.com --