LA JOLLA, Calif. -
Senior guard Casey Ryan
erupted for a career-high 28 points to lead the UC San Diego men’s basketball team to an impressive 73-64 victory over visiting Sonoma State on Thursday night at RIMAC Arena.
UCSD was in control from the outset and led by as many as 12 points en route to its second victory in three games. The Tritons improve to 7-4 overall in 2010-11 and 2-3 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association and will look to even their league record against Cal State East Bay on Monday evening.
“After we came up short in against Humboldt (on December 19), we really needed to come out and get a win at home before we hit the road for three games next week,” head coach Chris Carlson
said. “I thought we got off to a great start and that really set the tone for us tonight. Casey had a big performance and Christian was excellent, especially in the first half. We’ll definitely look to carry this effort into Monday’s game at East Bay.”
In what proved to be one of his finest performances as a Triton, Ryan finished 7-of-12 from the floor to lead three players in double figures for UCSD. He was 13-of-18 at the foul line -- sinking 10 free throws in the final six and a half minutes to put the game away -- and also tallied nine rebounds and five assists in a game-high 37 minutes.
The Jackson, Calif. native shattered his previous high of 19 points that came against Simon Fraser earlier this season, punctuating his performance with an emphatic dunk as he was fouled late in the second half and then completing the three-point play to thwart a Sonoma rally.
scored 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds for UCSD, while James McCann
put in 16. The Tritons shot 45% (21-47) for the game and went to the free throw line a total of 38 times, converting 29, 76%.
Steven Pratt finished with 19 points, five rebounds and six assists for the Seawolves, who dropped to 4-5 overall and 2-3 in the CCAA. Matthew French tallied 10 points and grabbed three boards.
UCSD held an early 14-6 lead as SSU was ice cold to start the game, but the visitors would rally to with 18-16 on a layup by Pratt with 6:15 remaining in the first half. McCann hit a three and the found Hatch for an easy lay-in under the basket to put the Tritons in front, 27-20, but the Seawolves came back to tie the score at 28 on back-to-back triples from Pratt and Ash Arnott.
Ryan answered with a layup on the final possession of the half, giving UCSD a 30-28 cushion at the break.
Sonoma would take a brief 33-32 lead a little more than two minutes into the second stanza, but UCSD scored seven straight points to lead 43-35 with 12:40 left to play. Ryan capped the run with a big three as the shot clock was winding down.
The Seawolves would trim the deficit to just two once again, pulling to within 45-43 with 11:34 remaining, but Hatch scored back-to-back baskets for the Tritons and McCann sank two free throws to put UCSD back up by eight with 9:47 on the clock.
It looked as though Sonoma had one final run left, but McCann got to the rim and converted and Ryan scored five straight points, including his big three-point play, to give the Tritons a 58-47 lead with six and a half minutes left.
UCSD hit 15 free throws down the stretch and Sonoma would get no closer than six the rest of the way.
The Tritons will now play three road games in six days beginning with Monday’s stop at Cal State East Bay. UCSD will then take on Chico State and Cal State Stanislaus on Friday and Saturday, respectively.