SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -
Robbie Robinson scored 17 points to lead five players in double figures as Cal State San Bernardino handed UC San Diego a 76-72 defeat on the final day of the regular season on Friday night at Cousoullis Arena.
The Tritons cut a 13-point first half deficit down to one with just over two minutes remaining, but the Coyotes scored the next four points and held on for the narrow victory.
UCSD's season comes to an end at 11-17 overall and 6-16 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. The Tritons finished in 11th place in the conference standings after losing their final three games of the year and six of their last seven. The one win in that span was a big one, as UCSD upset second place Cal State Dominguez Hills, 61-59, on February 18 in Carson.
Cal State San Bernardino wraps up the regular season at 17-9 overall and 15-7 in the CCAA. The Coyotes finished in third place in the league standings and will host the No. 6 seed on Tuesday in the opening round of the CCAA Tournament.
Robinson led five players in double figures for San Bernardino, which swept the season series with UCSD, 2-0. He finished 6-of-9 from the field and also led the Coyotes with seven rebounds. Corey Caston, Aaron Hill and Kwame Alexander scored 14 points apiece for CSUSB, while Theron Laudermille chipped in with 11.
Senior guard Casey Ryan tallied team-highs of 17 points and eight rebounds in his final game as a Triton, finishing 5-of-8 from the field and 7-of-8 at the free throw line. The CCAA rebounding leader at nearly 10 per game, Ryan finished with a total of 270 boards in 2010-11, a figure that ranks fourth on the all-time single season list. His career total of 511 rebounds ranks 10th all-time.
James McCann finished with 13 points for UCSD, while Justin Brue and Tyler McGrath added 12 points apiece.
CSUSB shot just under 46% for the game, including 54% in the opening period. The Coyotes converted 13-of-24 first half shots to claim a seven-point lead at the break. UCSD shot 44% from the field, converting 13-of-26 shots in the second half after hitting just 11-of-28 in the first.
CSUSB jumped out to a 9-2 lead three minutes in on a three-pointer by Hill and Ryan Kinney's triple made it 18-8 seven minutes later. Caston hit two free throws to give the Coyotes their biggest advantage at 25-12, but McCann answered with a three of his own and Brue hit back-to-back buckets to bring UCSD to within 25-19.
The Coyotes would push the advantage back to 10 at 31-21 on a layup from Alexander, before Mike Meza hit a pair of jumpers to bring the Tritons to within 38-31 at the half.
UCSD cut the lead to three on four occasions early in the second period until Meza's runner made it 49-48 with 10:21 left. The Coyotes scored the next four points and the lead hovered around five until Hill hit another three to give San Bernardino a 67-59 cushion with 4:44 remaining.
The Tritons would trim the deficit down to one twice more, but each time the home team had the answer. Ryan scored inside to bring UCSD to within 69-68 with 2:06 left on the clock, but Caston responded with two free throws and Hill hit a jumper to put CSUSB up by five with 56 seconds to play.
The Tritons would get no closer than three the rest of the way as McGrath and McCann missed three point tries and the Coyotes sank three free throws to seal the win.
UCSD outscored San Bernardino 32-20 in the paint, but the Coyotes were plus nine from the three-point line and converted five more free throws. Both teams finished with 31 rebounds in the game.