LA JOLLA, Calif. - With just a week to go before the end of the regular season, the UC San Diego men's basketball team unleashed a solid offense on Saturday at RIMAC Arena to beat Cal State Monterey Bay, 82-67, and stop a four-game losing streak.
The Tritons, who improve to seventh place in the conference, climb to 10-13 overall and 9-11 in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play. UCSD will remain at RIMAC Arena to host eighth-place Sonoma State (10-14, 8-12 CCAA) in a Thursday contest set for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1700.
Junior guard James McCann had a memorable night. McCann led the Tritons with 19 points, including a career-best performance at the free-throw line where he went a perfect 10-for-10. The Carlsbad native also had three rebounds and matched his career-high for assists in a game with nine. Senior guard Tyler McGrath finished with 14 points, two rebounds and two assists, while freshman forward/guard Drew Dyer contributed 13 points, five rebounds and an assist.
Senior forward Justin Brue earned his second double-double this season with his 12 points and game-high 10 rebounds to go along with a game-high two blocks. Freshman guard/forward Hunter Walker also scored 12 points and had three rebounds.
Leading the Otters was senior guard Brandon Ward, who finished with a game-high 22 points in addition to one rebound, two assists and a steal. Ward received support from freshman guard Coley Apsay's 10 points. Apsay additionally had a rebound, an assist and a share of the game-high two steals.
Both teams made 25 field goals in the game. However, the Tritons drained nine three-pointers in all, five more than the Otters had. The Tritons shot 25-for-52 (48.1%) from the paint, including a strong 13-for-25 (52%) effort in the first half. The Otters made 25 of 58 (43.1%) in the field for the game, including a 13-for-28 (46.4%) performance in the opening frame.
In addition, UCSD made 10 more free throws to outscore CSUMB at the line, 23-13, for the game.
UCSD was ahead by seven, 39-32, at the start of the second half and never allowed their lead to get any smaller in the closing 20 minutes.
Just past the midway point of the second half, Brue made four points on free throws as part of a 6-0 UCSD run. The run started with Brue's pair of free throws at the 9:52 mark to put the Tritons up, 59-46, and concluded with senior guard Ryan Peters' layup with 8:15 left in regulation to give UCSD a 63-46 lead.
Although they had all the points they needed once McCann made his fifth and sixth free throws to lead, 69-51, at the 6:07 reading, UCSD rolled out a 7-0 run in the closing minutes, a run that was capped by junior guard Matt Bailey's layup with 1:17 left to give the Tritons an 82-61 advantage, their largest lead of the game.
Down by as many as five in the early minutes of the game, McCann made a layup to begin an 8-0 run with 15:56 remaining to bring the Tritons within a trey of tying the game, 12-9. After Peters tied the game, 12-12, with a three-pointer, Dyer's tie-breaking trey gave UCSD a 15-12 lead at the 14:32 mark.
Minutes later, CSUMB rang off six straight points to take a 22-21 lead with 7:49 to go before halftime, a run that was capped by senior forward Derrick Anderson's go-ahead layup. With the score tied, 24-24, McCann hit his third and fourth free throws on the night to give the Tritons a 26-24 cushion at the 6:54 mark and UCSD neither tied nor trailed the Otters again in the contest.
UCSD led by as many as nine in the first half, 35-26, when McCann's layup closed the book on a 6-0 run with 4:34 left in the half.
The 12th-place Otters, who fall to 8-19 overall and 4-16 in CCAA competition, return home to The Kelp Bed to play 10th-place Cal State Stanislaus (9-15, 6-14 CCAA) for a Thursday game scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m.
-- UCSDtritons.com --