TURLOCK, Calif. - The UC San Diego men's basketball team was never able to get its offense going and it proved costly, as the Tritons suffered a 69-44 drubbing at the hands of first place Humboldt State on Saturday night at Lumberjack Arena.
UCSD finished the game at a season-low 29.6% shooting from the field, while Humboldt connected on 53% of its attempts. The Lumberjacks outscored the Tritons 42-22 in the second half to pick up the win and claim a share of first place in the California Collegiate Athletic Association standings.
"We didn't shoot the ball very well tonight at all and it hurt us," head coach Chris Carlson said. "That's a very good team and they're always tough to beat on their home floor. We just didn't do what we needed to do to put ourselves in a position to win."
Randy Hunter finished with game-highs of 17 points and eight rebounds for the Lumberjacks, who improve to 15-2 on the season and 11-2 in the CCAA. With Cal State Dominguez Hills' loss to Cal State Stanislaus on Saturday, HSU moved into a tie with the Toros atop the league standings.
Brian Morris added 13 points, seven boards and four assists for the Lumberjacks, while Scott Clark added 10 points off the bench.
Casey Ryan scored 12 points and James McCann put in 10 for the Tritons, who suffered their fifth straight loss and seventh defeat in eight games. UCSD entered play this week in a three-way tie for the eighth and final CCAA Tournament berth, but consecutive losses to Sonoma State and Humboldt State dropped the Tritons to 10th in the league standings.
"We're definitely still in this thing, we just have to keep fighting," Carlson continued. "We're going to get back to work on Monday and we're going to get ready for San Francisco State and Cal State Monterey Bay. We've got four home games coming up and we've got to be ready to bounce back next week."
The Triton offense has struggled of late, with UCSD finishing below 40% from the field in three consecutive games. After shooting 39.6% in the 83-60 loss to the Seawolves on Thursday, the Tritons converted just 16 field goals and finished below 30% on Saturday.
After hanging with Humboldt in the first half, UCSD missed its first six shots of the second period and the Lumberjacks quickly pushed their advantage to 10 at 32-22 on a bucket by Kyle Baxter with 16:33 remaining.
Justin Brue and Ryan scored back-to-back baskets to bring the Tritons to within six, but the Lumberjacks answered with a 10-4 spurt to take a 42-30 lead with a little more than 13 minutes left.
UCSD was able to shave four points off the deficit, but it was all Humboldt down the stretch as the Lumberjacks outscored the Tritons 20-6 over the final 10 minutes to pull away. HSU scored eight straight at one point and Emmett Duvall's layup with 1:42 left gave the home team its largest margin at 67-42.
Ryan finished 5-of-9 from the field and also tallied six rebounds and two assists, while McCann added three boards and four assists.
The Tritons' frontcourt struggled all evening as Christian Hatch and Brue were a combined 2-for-19 from the field.
UCSD will face another stiff test when third place San Francisco State comes to town next Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The Tritons will then host Cal State Monterey Bay on Saturday on Spirit Night.