SAINT GEORGE, Utah - The UC San Diego men's basketball team opened its season Friday night with a narrow 71-67 loss against Dixie State College on the road at Burns Arena.
UCSD (0-1) held a seven point lead at the half, but Dixie State (1-0) drained 64% of its shots in the second stanza to come back for the victory. The game was the first of two for the Tritons at the Dixie State Classic.
"It really was a tale of two halves tonight," said sixth-year UCSD head coach Chris Carlson. "We were very sharp to start the game but gave up too many easy shots in the second half and you can't do that against a good team like Dixie State."
Justin Brue led UCSD as the senior guard totaled a team-high 14 points while also adding five rebounds. Three other Tritons finished in double figures including freshman forward Drew Dyer (13), junior guard James McCann (13) and sophomore center Brandon Blanchard (11). Blanchard also pulled down a game-high six rebounds.
DSC had three players with double-digit point totals, including Dalton Groskreutz, who finished with a game-high 21. He also had 11 boards to complete a double-double. Derek Owen totaled 12 points and De'Quan Thompson followed with 10.
UCSD led by as much as 16 in the first half when a free throw by junior guard MacKenzie McCullough put the Tritons up 30-14 with 4:19 remaining. The halftime score was 34-27 in favor of the visitors.
In the second frame, UCSD had a 12 point advantage at 55-43 with 11:39 left in the game. Dixie started chipping away and a three pointer by Groskreutz gave the Red Storm its first lead since early in the opening half, 58-57, with 7:02 remaining. A pair of free throws by Brue shifted the lead back to the Tritons, 63-62, but a jumper by Groskreutz at 2:13 put DSC back up for good.
Groskreutz poured in 17 points in the second half.
The Tritons shot 37% from the field while the Red Storm, which hit at just 30% in the first half, finished at 48%. Dixie turned the ball over 20 times compared to UCSD's 12.
Dixie State lost by just one point (81-80) against Division I UNLV in an exhibition game at the Thomas & Mack Center Wednesday.
"We have to bounce back quickly and I expect us to do that tomorrow against a very talented Fresno Pacific team," said Carlson.
The Tritons face off against the Sunbirds Saturday at 4:30 p.m. to wrap up play at the tourney. The game will be covered by live video as well as live stats. Fresno Pacific fell to Colorado Mesa, 82-81, in overtime in Friday's early game.
-- UCSDtritons.com --