- Senior center Christian Hatch
scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the UC San Diego men's basketball team to an 80-66 win over Academy of Art University on Saturday afternoon at Kezar Pavilion.
The Tritons outscored the Urban Knights 15-5 over the first seven minutes of the second half and never looked back, earning their third victory in four games to start the season. UCSD shot 52% from the field and held a commanding 34-21 rebounding advantage to send ART U to its fourth consecutive defeat.
"We had a really good effort out there today and we did a lot of things well," head coach Chris Carlson said. "We continued to get the job done on the boards and we keep finding different ways to score which is a good thing. We got another really strong performance from Christian and he was a big difference maker for us."
After earning Most Valuable Player honors at the Disney West Cast Tip-Off Classic Nov. 4-6, Hatch had another tremendous outing for the Tritons, recording his first double-double of the season. The Henderson, Nev. native finished 7-of-15 from the field and 9-of-13 at the free throw line en route to his second 20-point effort of the year, while also recording a season-high with the 11 rebounds.
Hatch has led the Tritons in scoring in all four of their games this season.
Junior forward Justin Brue had a big day as well, finishing with 18 points, three rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals, while sophomore point guard James McCann tallied 15 points, four boards, three helpers and three steals.
The Tritons converted 23-of-44 shots from the field and hit 5-of-9 from the three-point line, 56%. UCSD scored 29 points at the free throw line, hitting 29-of-43, 67%.
Ameer Shamssud-din scored a game-high 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting to pace Academy of Art (0-4), but it wasn't enough against the hot-shooting Tritons. Noah Kone-Nelson scored 12 points, but no other player finished with more than seven for the home team.
The Urban Knights shot 48% from the floor, converting 25 of their 52 shots.
UCSD was in control for much of the first half, racing out to an 11-2 lead following a pair of free throws from Brue. Academy of Art came storming back to tie the game at 14 on a jumper by Shamssud-din with 13:50 left in the period, but the Tritons would score seven of the next nine points to take a 21-16 lead with 11:38 remaining.
The Urban Knights continued to claw their way back into the game, ultimately taking a 33-29 advantage following another hoop from Shamssud-din. After UCSD took a 36-35 lead with 32 seconds to play, Shamssud-din hit his third triple of the half to give ART U a 38-36 lead at the break.
It was all UCSD in the second half as the Tritons used a 12-0 run to turn a 43-39 deficit into a 51-43 lead with 11:58 left to play. Ryan Peters hit a big three and Brue scored five points during the run as the Tritons took control.
A three-pointer from McCann gave UCSD a 60-49 lead with 8:13 remaining and a layup by Hatch three minutes later gave the Tritons their biggest lead at 70-55. The Urban Knights would get no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
UCSD held William Overton Jr., ART U's leading scorer, to just six points on 3-of-6 shooting. He averaged 19.3 points in Academy of Art's first three games to open the season.
The Tritons will return to action on Tuesday when they host Cal State San Bernardino in their California Collegiate Athletic Association and regular season home opener. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. at RIMAC Arena. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1700 in San Diego with Craig Elsten and Jack Cronin calling the action.