LA JOLLA, Calif. - With four seniors playing their final regular season home game at RIMAC Arena on Friday, the UC San Diego men's basketball did not disappoint and defeated San Francisco State, 83-70, to close the regular season.
The Tritons, who improve to 11-14 overall and 10-12 in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play, secured the No. 7 seed in the CCAA Tournament and will travel to Coussoulis Arena to play No. 2-seed Cal State San Bernardino (18-7, 16-6 CCAA) on Tuesday in a opening-round game scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Senior guard Tyler McGrath led all scorers with his game-high 28 points to go along with five rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Earning a double-double for the third straight game was senior forward Justin Brue with his 18 points and 11 rebounds. Brue, who had a block and two steals as well, broke UCSD's NCAA Division II career rebounding record by passing Shane Poppen's total of 544. Junior guard James McCann earned a double-double with 14 points and a career-high 10 assists in addition to two rebounds and two steals.
Senior guard/forward Decensae White paced the Gators with 22 points and had five rebounds and a block. Junior guard/forward William Overton, Jr. had 17 points, seven rebounds and an assist, while senior forward Winston Demmin finished with 14 points, six rebounds, one assist and two steals.
Shooting was remarkable for the Tritons, who ended the game with a 26-for-54 (48.1%) performance from the field, including a stellar 10-for-20 (50%) showing from three-point range. UCSD's defense also did its part, holding the Gators to a lackluster 1-for-16 (6.3%) from the arc for the game. SFSU ended the game with a 20-for-59 (33.9%) effort in the paint.
UCSD possessed a slim, 33-32 lead at the start of the final 20 minutes. However, the lead changed hands four times in as many minutes to begin the second half. On the fourth lead change, McGrath drilled a trey to put the Tritons ahead, 38-36, with 16:22 to go in the game while kicking off a 9-0 run. A free throw by McCann capped the run at the 15:16 mark and brought the Tritons to a 44-36 lead.
SFSU trimmed the Tritons' lead to as little as two twice. The last time that happened was when Demmin made a layup, 65-63, with 4:12 left in the game.
But the Tritons did not allow the Gators to chip away at their lead any further and embarked on a 10-0 run to put the game out of reach. The run was highlighted by Brue's dunk with 2:37 remaining in the game, which brought the crowd to its feet and gave the Tritons a 72-63 advantage. Senior guard Ryan Peters closed the run at the 2:00 mark on a free throw, pushing UCSD to a 75-64 lead.
In the game's opening frame, which contained six ties and two lead changes, the Tritons had difficulty holding onto a lead for a considerable amount of time. Their largest first-half lead occurred when McGrath hit a three-pointer to double UCSD's lead to a score of 14-8 with 12:35 remaining.
A 6-0 run by SFSU, however, tied the game at 14-14 with 9:27 to play in the half. Demmin's layup evened the score and capped the Gators' run. With the score tied, 21-21, White nailed a go-ahead jumper at the 5:58 mark to give the Gators a 23-21 lead and jumpstarted an 8-0 run. Sophomore guard Andre Jones' pair of free throws shut the run down with 2:57 left in the first half and put SFSU up, 31-23.
But the Tritons were not deterred and shifted the momentum in their favor, finishing the final minutes of the half with a 10-0 run. McCann's three-pointer with 49 seconds to go before the intermission not only concluded the run but also gave the Tritons a 33-31 lead.
The Gators, who drop to 15-11 overall and 13-9 in CCAA competition, will host Cal State L.A. (16-10, 13-9 CCAA) in the opening round of the CCAA Tournament on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Senior forward/center Colin Porter, who also played his last regular season home game as a Triton, finished with four rebounds.
2013 CCAA Tournament First Round
Tuesday, March 5
No. 8 Sonoma State at No. 1 Cal Poly Pomona, 7 p.m.
No. 7 UC San Diego at No. 2 Cal State San Bernardino, 7 p.m.
No. 6 Cal State Dominguez Hills at No. 3 Chico State, 7:30 p.m.
No. 5 Cal State L.A. at No. 4 San Francisco State, 7 p.m.
-- UCSDtritons.com --