CHICO, Calif. - The UC San Diego men's basketball team came from behind in its final regular-season road game against Chico State on Saturday, but left the court at Acker Gym with a gut-wrenching, 64-61 defeat from the Wildcats.The Tritons, who drop their third game in a row, dip to 9-12 overall and 8-10 in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) games. UCSD kicks off its final homestand of the regular season against last-place Cal State East Bay (5-17, 4-14 CCAA) in a game that will be broadcast live by ESPN Radio 1700 on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Freshman guard/forward Drew Dyer set game-highs in points and rebounds with 17 and 10, respectively. The Aurora, Colo. native also had one steal. Junior guard James McCann scored 16 points and had one rebound and a game-high six assists, while senior guard Tyler McGrath ended with 12 points, four rebounds, one assist and a steal.
CSUC was led by senior guard Damario Sims with his 14 points. Sims also had three rebounds, a team-high four assists and a steal. Junior guard Rashad Parker, junior guard Sean Park and sophomore forward Jordan Semple each finished with 10 points. In addition, Parker had a share of the team-high five rebounds and two assists while Park contributed four rebounds and an assist. Semple also put up three rebounds, three assists, a game-high three blocks and a steal.
UCSD shot a 23-for-61 (37.7%) performance from the field, making three more shots than the Wildcats in their 20-for-52 (38.5%) showing from the paint. However, half of the Wildcats' field goals were from three-point range, while the Tritons only hit four from the same area. Additionally, the Wildcats outscored the Tritons in both bench points, 23-11, and points off of turnovers, 15-8.
Arriving into the second half trailing, 29-25, the Tritons fell behind by as many as nine when sophomore forward Jordan Barton made the score, 38-29, on a free throw with 15:43 to go in the game.
UCSD then sprung to life, going on a 7-0 run, which was capped off by McGrath's jumper with 13:39 left in regulation to bring the Tritons within a field goal of catching the Wildcats, 38-36.
The Tritons regained the lead, 48-47, on senior forward Justin Brue's dunk at the 7:49 mark. UCSD last held the lead by a score of 57-54 when McCann sank a pair of free throws with 3:33 to spare in the contest. McCann later tied the game for the 11th time, 61-61, with a trey at the 26-second mark.
On the Wildcats' next possession, Sims, who fielded a pass from Semple, launched the ball from behind the three-point arc and made the shot to beat the buzzer while giving the Wildcats a 64-61 lead.
It was said though that there were 0.3 seconds left on the clock when Sims' shot entered the basket, so the Tritons had one last attempt to send the game into overtime.
Receiving the in-bounds pass three-quarters of the court away from his target, McCann heaved the last-chance shot into the basket and was counted. But upon further review, McCann's shot was disallowed, thereby solidifying the win for the Wildcats and the most heartbreaking loss for the Tritons this season.
While the game had a wild finish, the first half was wild in general and featured five ties and seven lead changes.
Leading by as many as five points, 10-5, after freshman guard/forward Hunter Walker made a layup with 12:08 left in the first half, the Tritons last held the lead, 23-22, when senior guard Ryan Peters drained a go-ahead three-pointer at the 3:39 mark of the opening frame.
A tip-in by junior guard/forward MacKenzie McCullough tied the game at 25-25 with 55 seconds before the halftime buzzer, but the Wildcats went into the half with a 29-25 lead after successful trips to the free-throw line by Park and senior center Jason Conrad with 50 seconds and 2 seconds left, respectively.
The Wildcats, who have won three straight, remain in fifth place in the CCAA with a 13-9 record overall and a 10-8 record against CCAA competition. CSUC will play host to sixth-place Cal State Dominguez Hills (14-11, 10-8 CCAA) on Friday in a game scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. The Toros have won four straight.
-- UCSDtritons.com --