ANAHEIM, Calif. -
Junior center Christian Hatch
scored 16 points to lead five players in double figures as the UC San Diego men's basketball team defeated Lewis University 70-59 on the opening day of the Disney West Coast Tip Off Classic on Friday at the Anaheim Convention Center.
UCSD (1-0) shot 50% for the game and led by as many as 14 points en route to the program's first victory in a season opener since the 2001-02 campaign. The Tritons, who will play three times in three days during this weekend's tournament, will look to carry the momentum from Friday's win into Saturday's matchup with Dixie State.
"The guys really played hard today and their effort paid off," head coach Chris Carlson said. "We did all the things that we need to do to be successful and we beat a really good team out there. I can't say enough about our effort and focus, but we've got to come right back tomorrow and do it again."
Hatch converted 6-of-10 shots from the field to lead all scorers in the game, while Casey Ryan, James McCann and Tyler McGrath finished with 11 points apiece. Mike Meza added 10 points off the bench.
Ryan Peters finished with a game-high eight rebounds to go with three points, while Hatch and Ryan each hauled in six boards. As a team, UCSD held a 36-21 advantage on the glass.
Chris McClellan, Dennis Thomas Jr. and David Luster finished with 11 points apiece for Lewis (0-1).
Ryan opened the game with a huge dunk, as the Tritons looked sharp from the opening tip. Hatch's offensive rebound and putback made it 10-2 a little more than four minutes in and back-to-back triples by Meza three minutes later gave the Tritons a 20-7 advantage.
UCSD hit eight of its first 11 shots, while Lewis was just three of its first 10.
The Flyers would come storming back, however, hitting five first half threes to take a 30-29 lead with 28 seconds left in the half. Luster ignited the rally, hitting three triples off the bench.
The lead would not last long though, as McGrath sank a pair of free throws on the Tritons' final possession of the half to give UCSD a 31-30 advantage at the break.
The Tritons opened the second half much like they opened the game, outscoring the Flyers 17-6 over the first eight minutes of the period. Ryan capped off the run, converting a three-point play with 11:54 remaining to give UCSD a 48-36 lead.
Lewis closed to within 54-45 on a jumper by McClellan with 4:46 left, but Hatch sank a pair of free throws on the other end and hit back-to-back baskets moments later to give UCSD it biggest cushion at 64-50 and put game away with 1:20 remaining.
The Tritons finished 23-of-46 from the field, converting exactly half of their shots in each period. The Flyers shot just under 44%, connecting on 24-of-55 attempts.
UCSD outscored Lewis 25-6 in points off turnovers and held a 10-6 advantage on second chance points. Both teams scored 26 points in the paint and Lewis held a slim 24-23 edge in bench scoring.
Tipoff for the Tritons' matchup with Dixie State is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. The Red Storm erased a 16-point first half deficit to defeat Alaska Anchorage 75-58 in the early game on Friday.