SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - The UC San Diego men's basketball team saw its season come to a close in heartbreaking fashion Tuesday with a 102-99 triple overtime loss against Cal State San Bernardino at Coussoulis Arena in first round action of the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship Tournament.
UCSD led by as many as nine points in the first half and trailed by as many as 12 in the second stanza in a game that saw the lead change 15 times over the course of the night.
The Tritons, seeded seventh in the tourney, finished their season at 11-15 overall. The second-seeded Coyotes improved to 19-7 and will face No. 3 Chico State in a semifinal Friday at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.
UC San Diego's James McCann led all players with a career-high 27 points on 10-for-19 shooting. The junior guard dished out 11 assists to set another career-best and also had a steal while playing 53 of the game's 55 minutes.
The Tritons got stellar performances from a trio of seniors as well. Forward Justin Brue recorded his fourth consecutive double-double with 22 points and a career-high 14 rebounds while adding three assists, two blocks and a steal. Guard Ryan Peters finished with 12 points and six boards, while center Colin Porter had nine points, seven rebounds, a block and a steal.
Freshman forward Drew Dyer was 6-for-8 from the floor and finished with 16 points and five assists.
"As a staff, we asked for a 40-minute effort and we got a 55-minute effort," said UCSD head coach Chris Carlson. "It was a fantastic college basketball game and I am so very proud of our collective effort."
Four Coyotes hit double-digit point totals, including Kwame Alexander (22), Lacy Haddock (22), Brian Goins (20) and Joshua Gouch (10). Alexander made eight of 10 shots from the field, Haddock totaled seven assists and Johnny Bell had a team-high nine rebounds.
Both teams shot well from the field, with the Tritons holding a slight 50 percent (37-for-74) to 49.4 percent (39-for-79) advantage over the Coyotes. However, both squads were sub-par from the free throw line. UCSD came into the game ranked third nationally with a 78.4 free throw percentage. The Tritons made just 14 of 23 Tuesday, 60.9 percent. Cal State San Bernardino made 17 of 34, 50 percent.
San Bernardino scored 21 points off of 19 UCSD turnovers, the second-most committed by the Tritons this season.
The score was tied 85-85 heading into the third overtime. A free throw by Porter gave UCSD a one-point lead at 86-85, but that would be the final time the Tritons would be ahead. On the next possession, Haddock drilled a three to put the Coyotes up 88-86. Brue hit a jumper to tie it one final time at 88-88 before an Alexander dunk with 3:06 left gave the lead back to CSUSB, which it would hold the rest of the way. Three times UCSD would pull back within a point, the final coming when McCann nailed a trey with 11 seconds left, making the score 100-99 in favor of the Coyotes. A pair of free throws by Haddock pushed CSUSB's lead back to three at 102-99 with nine ticks left. With five seconds remaining, the Coyotes fouled McCann on the next possession, fearing he would hit another long range shot to tie it. McCann's first free throw was off the mark and he intentionally missed the second, hoping for a Triton rebound. However, Bell corralled the ball and was immediately fouled. He made it interesting by missing both of his free throws, but McCann's half court shot at the buzzer did not go.
A free throw shot by McCann with 28 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 70-70 and sent it to extra periods. UCSD freshman Hunter Walker made a three-pointer with six seconds left in the first OT to tie the score at 79-79 and extend the game further. A McCann trey with 3:25 remaining in the second overtime gave UCSD a five-point lead, but the Coyotes came back and Alexander hit a jumper with 1:09 left to knot the score at 85-85. Both teams turned the ball over on the next two possessions and neither squad would find the net, forcing a third overtime period.
A McCann three-pointer seven minutes into the game put UCSD up by nine, 16-7, its largest lead of the game. The Coyotes chipped away and tied it, 20-20, when Goins hit a free throw at the 5:33 mark. Goins put his team ahead, 22-20, with a jumper at 4:46 and CSUSB held a lead until the break, taking a 33-27 advantage into the locker room.
Cal State San Bernardino came out firing in the second half, scoring six straight points. A three-pointer by Haddock plus a free throw and a dunk by Alexander gave the Coyotes a 12-point cushion, 39-27, its largest of the game. UCSD stormed back with an 11-0 run. Porter had five straight points on a jumper, a layup and a free throw, bringing the Tritons back within seven points at 39-32 with 17:43 left in the half. Back-to-back threes by Dyer had UCSD down by just one, 39-38, at the 16:35 mark. A later jumper by senior guard Tyler McGrath at 14:53 gave the Tritons the lead back for the first time since the opening half, 43-42. UC San Diego pushed its advantage to five three times, the last coming with 1:30 remaining on a McCann jumper, giving the Tritons a 69-64 lead. The Coyotes then mounted a six-point run to go up 70-69 with 50 seconds left.
The 99 points scored by UCSD was the most for the team since totaling 102 in a win against Chestnut Hill on Nov. 4, 2011. The last time the Tritons gave up a triple-digit point total was in a 111-102 overtime loss against Cal State L.A. on Jan. 12, 2008.
It was the first overtime game for UCSD this season.
"Our seniors made some heavy contributions tonight," said Carlson. "That being said, we have a very solid group of returners that will carry this program going forward."
In other first round action Tuesday, top-seeded Cal Poly Pomona defeated No. 8 Sonoma State (73-59), Chico State advanced with a tight win over the No. 6 seed Cal State Dominguez Hills (80-78) and fourth-seeded San Francisco State took down fifth-seeded Cal State L.A. (57-47).
-- UCSDtritons.com --