LA JOLLA, Calif. -
In front of an electrifying crowd of almost 1,800 spectators at RIMAC Arena on Friday, the UC San Diego men's basketball team defeated Chico State, 65-62, to earn back-to-back victories for the first time this season.
The Tritons climb to 3-7 overall and 2-5 against California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) teams. UCSD will play host to Cal State Stanislaus (5-6, 2-5 CCAA) Saturday in a game slated for a 7:30 p.m. start.
Leading all scorers with his double-double performance was senior guard Tyler McGrath, who totaled 24 points and 10 rebounds. The Camarillo native also had two assists, two blocks and a steal.
Senior guard James McCann also posted strong numbers with 21 points to go along with four rebounds, two assists and a game-high three steals.
Junior forward Amir Carraway paced the Wildcats with 17 points, four rebounds and one assist.
UCSD won the game on the strength of its points both in the paint and off of turnovers. Over the 40 minutes, the Tritons outscored the Wildcats in the paint, 30-16, and amassed 19 points off of turnovers compared to Chico State's four.
During a thrilling final minute of play, the Wildcats changed the score from a seven-point Triton lead to a one-possession game. Down 63-56, Carraway buried a three-pointer with 49 seconds remaining then made a pair of free throws with 33 seconds left to bring his team within two points at 63-61.
Chico State had control of the ball and a chance to either tie the game or pull ahead with a three-pointer. However, McCann made a crucial steal underneath the basket with only six seconds to play and was quickly fouled. He made both of his free throw attempts to put the Tritons up 65-61.
With four seconds remaining, junior guard Rashad Parker was fouled and made a free throw to make the score, 65-62. After an unsuccessful trip to the line for the Tritons, senior center Jason Conrad heaved an unsuccessful desperation three-pointer as time expired.
Down 30-28 emerging from the intermission, McGrath scored four unanswered points to put the Tritons ahead. However, the lead returned to the Wildcats when senior guard Damario Sims hit a trey with 18:16 to go, which began a stretch of 100 seconds in which the lead changed three times.
There were 13 tie scores in the game, 10 of those coming in the second half. The final knotted score came with 3:38 remaining when Carraway hit a free throw to make it 56-56.
McGrath then came alive on offense, kicking off a 7-0 run in which he sank two free throws and drilled a trey at the 2:32 mark to put the Tritons ahead by a five-point margin of 61-56. Freshman forward Drew Dyer capped off the sequence with a layup that brought UCSD its largest lead of the night.
UCSD shot 45.1 percent from the floor, making 23 of 51 attempts. The Tritons turned the ball over just eight times. CSUC finished at 40.4 percent (19-for-47) and held a 35-30 advantage in rebounds.
Chico State got 21 points from its bench.
The attendance of 1,791 was the second-largest ever for a non-Spirit Night game at RIMAC Arena. Spirit Night is an annual event that showcases competition among students from all six of UCSD's colleges.
-- UCSDtritons.com --