Game No. 24
UC San Diego Tritons (9-14, 5-13) at Cal State Monterey Bay Otters (2-20, 1-17)
Friday, February 17, 2012 • 7:30 p.m.
The Kelp Bed (1,000) • Seaside, Calif.
Game No. 25
First Things First
UC San Diego Tritons at Cal State East Bay Pioneers
Saturday, February 18, 2012 • 7:30 p.m.
Pioneer Gymnasium (3,500) • Hayward, Calif.
After a pair of tough losses to Chico State and Cal State Stanislaus last week, the UC San Diego men's basketball team will play four straight road games to close out the season. The Tritons will travel to Seaside to take on Cal State Monterey Bay on Friday night, before squaring off with Cal State East Bay on Saturday evening in Hayward. Both games will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. or immediately following the women's contests.
On the Record
UCSD enters Friday's clash with Cal State Monterey Bay with an overall record of 9-14 and a 5-13 mark in California Collegiate Athletic Association play after falling to Chico State and Cal State Stanislaus at home last week. The Tritons let a 10-point second half lead slip away in a 71-64 defeat to the league-leading Wildcats on Friday and then suffered a 55-42 setback to the Warriors on Saturday after an ugly performance from the offense. UCSD, which currently sits in 10th place in the CCAA standings, had won four of its previous seven to stay in the hunt for a CCAA Tournament berth, but saw its postseason hopes dashed with the two losses last week. Seven of the eight tournament qualifiers have been determined and eighth place Cal State Stanislaus needs just two wins in its last four games to lock up the final spot.
Playing For Pride
Now that they have been officially eliminated from postseason contention, the Tritons will look to put together a strong finish in their final four road games. UCSD has struggled on the road this season, going 1-7 so far, but the Tritons will have a decent shot at picking up a couple of wins this week. Cal State Monterey Bay is just 2-9 at The Kelp Bed in 2011-12 (and 2-20 overall), while Cal State East Bay is just one game over .500 on its home floor with a record of 6-5. The Tritons defeated the Otters, 71-67, earlier this season and dropped an 80-79 decision to the Pioneers in overtime the following night.
Offense Stalls vs. Stanislaus
UCSD will be looking to bounce back this week after a forgettable offensive performance against Cal State Stanislaus on Saturday. The Tritons never found their rhythm against the Warriors, shooting a season-low 24% from the field. UCSD converted just 14 field goals in the game, finishing with 20 points in the first half and 22 in the second. Despite the offensive struggles, the Tritons still had a shot to win, pulling to within five on a three-pointer by James McCann with six minutes to play. Unfortunately, the Warriors answered with a 9-1 run over the next three and a half minutes and pulled away from there. UCSD was much sharper offensively against Chico State on Friday, shooting 50% (23-46) from the floor and 45% (4-9) from downtown.
Defense Doing Its Part
While UCSD's offense had its troubles against Cal State Stanislaus, the defense played much better, holding the Warriors to just 37% (19-51) shooting for the game. The Tritons have been getting the job done on the defensive end over the last several weeks, holding three of their last five opponents to 37% shooting or less. UCSD currently ranks seventh in the CCAA in field goal percentage defense, holding the opposition to 42% for the season.
UCSD Probable Starters - Notes
G - James McCann • So., 5-11, 165 - Scored in double figures in 10 of the last 12 games.
G - Tyler McGrath • Jr., 6-3, 175 - Leads UCSD with 41 three-pointers this season.
G - MacKenzie McCullough • So., 6-4, 195 - Put in a career-high 16 points against Cal State Dominguez Hills on Feb. 4.
F - Justin Brue • Jr., 6-5, 215 - Recorded a season-best three blocked shots in loss to Chico State.
C - Christian Hatch • Sr., 6-8, 245 - UCSD's leading scorer and rebounder.
Senior center Christian Hatch is in the midst of another outstanding season for the Tritons, averaging team-highs of 12.5 points and 7.2 rebounds in 20 games. The Henderson, Nev. native is shooting just under 50% from the field and has scored in double figures a total of 11 times this season. He has tallied three double-doubles on the year, including an impressive 16-point, 14-rebound performance against Cal State East Bay last month. After a dealing with a wrist injury for the last several weeks, Hatch looked like himself again against Chico State, finishing with a game-high 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting, while also hauling down six boards in 33 minutes. He finished with just five points on 1-of-4 shooting against Cal State Stanislaus, but still made an impact, grabbing 11 rebounds.
Sophomore point guard James McCann has been playing his best basketball over the last month, averaging a team-high 15.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists in UCSD's last 10 games. He shooting 46% (44-95) from the field over that span, including 44% (18-41) from the three-point line. The Carlsbad native had another big game against Chico State on Friday, finishing with 17 points, three rebounds and two assists in game-high 37 minutes. He was 4-of-8 from the floor, sank both of his attempts from behind the arc and hit seven of his nine free throws to finish in double figures for the 11th time this season. On the year, McCann is averaging 11.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. He's shooting 40% from the field and 36% from downtown.
Scouting the Otters
Cal State Monterey Bay has an overall record of 2-20 and a 1-17 mark in the CCAA after losing a 97-61 decision to Cal State East Bay in Seaside on Tuesday night... The Otters have lost 17 straight since defeating Sonoma State the opening weekend of conference play... Junior guard Brandon Ward is averaging a team-high 15.5 points, while junior forward Derrick Anderson is putting up 11.3 points and grabbing 5.0 boards... CSUMB ranks ninth in the league in scoring offense, averaging 64.9 points per game, while the defense is allowing 75.6 on the other end, a figure that ranks 11th... UCSD trails the all-time series with Cal State Monterey Bay 9-7 after claiming the first meeting of the year by a final score of 71-67 on Jan. 14 at RIMAC... James McCann and Justin Brue scored 19 points apiece to lead the way for the Tritons.
Scouting the Pioneers
Cal State East Bay heads into the weekend at 8-14 overall and 6-12 in conference play after knocking off Cal State Monterey Bay on the road on Tuesday... The Pioneers had lost nine straight before routing the Otters... CSUMB is currently ninth in the league standings and still alive for a CCAA Tournament berth... Junior guard Mark Samuels is the player to watch for CSUEB, averaging 16.2 points on 50% shooting... He is also hauling down 4.9 rebounds and dishing out a team-high 3.1 assists... The Pioneers have the league's second-ranked offense, averaging 74.3 points per game, while the defense ranks dead last, allowing 77.1... The Tritons have won five out of eight previous matchups with Cal State East Bay... The Pioneers stole an 80-79 OT victory in the first meeting of the year on Jan. 13 in La Jolla.
UCSD has struggled in the rebounding department lately, losing the battle on the glass in six of its last seven games... The Tritons were outrebounded 36-29 against Chico State on Friday and 47-37 on Saturday against Cal State Stanislaus... UCSD currently ranks 11th in the CCAA in scoring offense at 63.7 points per game and 12th in field goal percentage at 41.8%... Defensively, the Tritons rank fifth in the league, allowing 64.5 points per night... After taking on Cal State Monterey Bay and Cal State East Bay this week, UCSD will travel to Humboldt State and Sonoma State Feb. 22 and 24 to concluded the season.
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