LA JOLLA, Calif. - Justin Brue
scored a career-high 18 points and James McCann
finished with 16 to lead the UC San Diego men's basketball team to a convincing 81-61 victory over visiting Academy of Art University on Sunday afternoon at RIMAC Arena.
The Tritons overcame a sluggish opening half to shoot 46% for the game and defeat the Urban Knights in their 2010-11 regular season home opener. UCSD improves to 3-1 on the season with the win, while AAU falls to 0-2.
Brue led four players in double figures for the Tritons, converting 7-of-16 shots from the floor. His 18 points was a game-high and easily eclipsed his previous best of seven points. The sophomore forward also corralled a season-high nine rebounds in 25 minutes.
"I was taking what they were giving me and Coach told me to pick my spots when I shot the ball and I did that," Brue said.
James McCann put together another impressive performance, finishing with 16 points, seven assists and two steals in a game-high 36 minutes. The freshman point guard, who is now averaging a team-high 14 points through four games this season, finished 5-of-7 from the field and 2-of-3 from the three-point line.
Sophomore transfer Ryan Peters had his best game as a Triton, finishing with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-5 from downtown, while Christian Hatch recorded his first double-double of the season after tallying 10 points and 10 rebounds.
UCSD hit just four of its first 16 shots to open the game and shot 35% (8-23) in the opening half overall, but still held a 29-20 lead at the break. The Tritons found their stroke in the second half, shooting 17-of-31 in the period, 55%. UCSD held a 47-27 rebounding advantage and outscored Academy of Art to the tune of 36-6 in the paint.
"We had a good effort today," head coach Chris Carlson said. "It wasn't always pretty, but we did some of the things that we talked about doing. We did a good job of limiting their shot opportunities over the span of the game, we outrebounded them by a big number and, for the most part, we took care of the ball. I think we got better today."
Ivan Prema scored 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting to lead the Urban Knights, while Will Overton finished with 13. UAA shot 35% from the field, 18-of-51.
The game was tied at 15 all 14 minutes into the first half, as neither team could grab more than a two-point lead. UCSD then closed the period on a 14-5 run, with McCann and Mike Meza combining to hit three triples in the final three minutes to give the Tritons a nine-point halftime advantage.
The momentum carried over into second half, as UCSD extended its advantage to 10 at 39-29 on Brue's layup with 15:15 remaining. The Urban Knights would cut the deficit to just five (43-38) following a Prema jumper, but Peters answered with back-to-back threes for the Tritons to push the lead back to 11 with less than 11 minutes left to play.
Leading 63-52 with 5:46 left on the clock, Brue scored inside to ignite an 11-1 Triton run and UCSD took its biggest lead of the game at 74-53 with three minutes remaining.
UCSD scored 52 points in the second half after finishing with just 29 in the first. Brue scored 12 of his 18 points in the final period, while Peters scored 11.
The Tritons will now travel to Belmont for the Notre Dame de Namur Thanksgiving Classic November 26-27. UCSD will square off with Simon Fraser to open the tournament on Friday, before facing host NDNU on Saturday.