The Tritons cut an 11-point deficit down to four with less than two minutes to play, but the Golden Eagles scored the final four points of the game to hold on for the win. Cal State L.A. improves to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in California Collegiate Athletic Association play with the victory, while the loss drops UCSD to 3-4 on the year and 0-3 in conference.
Quinton Watkins hit four three-pointers and finished with a game-high 15 points to pace the Golden Eagles, while Carl Hoffman tallied a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Watkins finished 5-of-10 from the field, while Hoffman was 5-of-7.
The Triton offense struggled to get going for the second game in a row, with the UCSD starters combining for just 33 points. Tyler McGrath led the way with nine, while James McCann and Justin Brue finished with eight points apiece.
McGrath was just 1-of-6 from the field, but sank 7-of-8 at the free throw line. McCann was 3-for-8 and Brue finished 4-of-6.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well as the Golden Eagles finished at just under 34% (19-56) from the field and the Tritons shot at a 31% (10-32) clip. CSULA hit 4-of-17 from the three-point line, 23.5%, while UCSD was 0-for-8 from behind the arc.
After the Tritons held an early lead, the Golden Eagles came back to claim an 18-11 advantage following a Watkins' triple with seven minutes remaining in the first half. Another three from Watkins gave Cal State L.A. its biggest lead at 26-15 a minute and a half later.
Trailing 28-17, UCSD closed the half on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to just four heading into the locker room. The Golden Eagles shot 38.5% in the first half, while the Tritons finished at 37.5%.
UCSD pulled within two twice in the first three minutes of the second half, but CSULA answered with a 7-0 spurt to take a 37-28 lead with 12:55 left to play.
The Golden Eagle advantage hovered between 5-8 points the rest of the way. With Cal State L.A. leading 45-37 with 3:34 remaining, Christian Hatch hit a pair of free throws and Brue scored inside to cut the deficit to 45-41 with 1:39 left.
That would be UCSD's final score of the game though, as the Tritons came up empty on their final three trips. Jibreel Nasir sank two free throws and then got an easy bucket with the clock winding down to seal the win for the Golden Eagles.
CSULA held a 39-31 advantage on the glass and finished with an 11-2 edge in second chance points.
The Tritons will take the next seven days off for final exams and then return to the court on Sunday, December 11 for a nonconference matchup with Dixie State at RIMAC Arena. Tip-off is slated for 1:00 p.m.