CARSON, Calif. - James McCann
scored five straight points down the stretch to lift the UC San Diego men's basketball team to a 61-59 victory over No. 13 Cal State Dominguez Hills in a California Collegiate Athletic Association matchup on Friday evening at the Torodome.
The Tritons trailed by 10 midway through the second half, but came roaring back to upset the Toros and snap their three-game losing streak. UCSD shot 48% in the decisive second half, outscoring CSUDH 34-29 in the period to record its biggest win of the season.
UCSD improves to 11-14 overall and 6-13 in CCAA play. The Tritons, who entered Friday's game in 10th place in the CCAA standings, remain in the hunt for a berth in next month‘s conference tournament with the win. UCSD will go for the season sweep of Cal State L.A. on Saturday evening in Los Angeles.
Cal State Dominguez Hills falls to 19-4 overall and 15-4 in the CCAA with the loss. The Toros have now dropped three of their last six after starting the season 16-1.
"We had a great week of practice and it carried over into tonight," head coach Chris Carlson said. "I am very proud of our effort. We've showed great heart throughout all the adversity we've experienced. We beat a very good, well coached team tonight."
Justin Brue scored a game-high 17 points for the Tritons, who registered their first road win since January 3. He finished 7-of-11 from the field and grabbed five rebounds in a team-high 30 minutes. Tyler McGrath scored 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting off the bench, while Casey Ryan tallied eight points and 11 rebounds.
McCann finished just 2-of-7 from the field for eight points, but came up huge in the waning moments, hitting a jumper to cut the Toros' lead to one with two minutes left and then draining three free throws with 1:05 remaining to put UCSD in front for good.
Michael Cox scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Toros, while Robert Willhite finished with 13 points and six boards. Tim McLaurin chipped in with 10 points and five rebounds.
The Tritons shot just 35% in the first half, but hit 12-of-25 field goals in the second to finish at 41% for the game. The Toros shot 46% from the field, hitting 12-of-28 shots in the second stanza after dropping 13-of-26 in the first.
Dominguez held a 47-37 advantage with 12:35 remaining, but McGrath hit a three-pointer and Brue knocked down a baseline jumper to bring UCSD to within five. After a McLaurin layup, Brue scored five straight points to bring the Tritons to within two. His three-point play made it 49-47.
The Toros would push their lead back to seven at 56-49 with 5:22, but the Tritons answered with an 11-2 run over the next four minutes to grab the lead. McGrath hit a jumper to start the run and McCann scored five in a row to finish it off. He was fouled on a three-point try with just over a minute left and hit all three, giving UCSD a 60-58 cushion.
Cox drew a foul on Dominguez' next trip, but only made 1-of-2 at the line, and McLaurin missed another opportunity to give the lead back to the Toros, missing his one-and-one attempt with nine seconds left.
Ryan hit a free throw to put UCSD in front by two at 61-59 with six ticks left and Zareh Zargaryan's potential game-winning three as time expired missed the mark, sending the Tritons to the victory.
UCSD held an 18-15 lead eight minutes into the first half, but CSUDH rallied to grab a 28-24 with three minutes left in the period. Willhite hit a jumper just before the buzzer to give the Toros a 30-27 edge at the break.
The Tritons' matchup with the Golden Eagles is scheduled to tip-off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at The Eagles Nest. UCSD defeated CSULA 76-73 in double overtime on January 13 at RIMAC Arena.