LA JOLLA, Calif. -
The UC San Diego men's basketball team cut an eight-point deficit down to one with 29 seconds remaining, but couldn't get over the top in a 60-56 setback to visiting Chico State on Saturday evening at RIMAC Arena.
UCSD led 36-28 with 18 minutes left in the second half, but the Wildcats scored the next 11 points to assume control and hand the Tritons a loss in their final home appearance of the season.
Chico State improves to 12-10 overall with the victory and ups its California Collegiate Athletic Association record to 8-10. The Wildcats had lost four of their previous five before earning the season sweep of the Tritons on Saturday.
UCSD falls to 10-14 on the season and 5-13 in the CCAA following its third straight defeat. The Tritons will now close out the regular season with four straight on the road, beginning with dates at Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State L.A. next Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Terence Pellum scored 16 points and Roderick Hawkins put in 10 for the Wildcats, who outscored the Tritons 34-28 in the decisive second half. Pellum was 7-for-10 from the field and grabbed six rebounds, while Hawkins was just 2-of-6, but converted 5-of-7 at the free throw line.
Christian Hatch recorded another double-double for UCSD, finishing with 16 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes. The junior center has a team-high nine double-doubles on the season, with two coming in his last three games.
Casey Ryan, who was honored during a special Senior Day ceremony prior to the game, finished with 16 points and seven rebounds in his final appearance at RIMAC Arena, while Justin Brue scored 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting.
Both teams finished 21-of-48 from the field for an identical shooting percentage of 43.8%, but Chico was 5-of-16 from the three-point line and UCSD converted just 1-of-5 from downtown. Both teams made 13 free throws in the game and both squads scored 30 points in the paint.
The Tritons held a slim advantage for most of the first half and took their biggest lead at 25-19 on a layup by Ryan with 2:10 left in the period. UCSD led 28-22 a minute later, but Pellum scored on back-to-back possessions to bring the Wildcats to within two at the break.
The Tritons scored six of the first eight points to open the second period, with Ryan Peters' layup putting UCSD in front by eight with 17:41 to play. Chico State's game-changing run followed, however, with Zach Graves and Josh Jackson converting back-to-back layups to cap things off and put the visitors in front, 39-36.
The Wildcats extended their advantage to 56-48 with just under five minutes remaining following a three-point play by Damario Sims and another Pellum bucket, but UCSD answered with an 8-1 spurt over the next 4:28 to close to within one at 57-56. Ryan hit a pair of free throws and converted a runner in the lane to bookend the run.
Trailing by one with 29 seconds left, the Tritons had no choice but to foul and the Wildcats' Sean Park made the ensuing free throws, giving Chico a 59-56 lead with 24 seconds to play. Jay Flores stripped Mike Meza on UCSD's next possession, sealing the win for the Wildcats.
The Tritons shot 50% (10-20) in the second half and converted all eight of their free throws, but it wasn't enough in the end as the Wildcats made the right plays down the stretch.