SEASIDE, Calif. - Staving off a second-half rally, the University of California San Diego men's basketball team won its fifth-straight game Thursday night, topping Cal State Monterey Bay by a score of 86-80 on the road in The Kelp Bed.
UC San Diego improved to 11-5 overall and 8-2 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). The five-game win streak is the team's longest of the season. CSUMB suffered its sixth-consecutive loss and fell to 4-11 on the year and 3-8 in conference action.
The Tritons led by as many as 20 points with just over 14 minutes left in the game, but the Otters cut their deficit to only five with 35 seconds remaining on the clock. However, UCSD scored the next four points of the game to seal the win.
"We played well tonight and were able to get a conference road win," said UCSD head coach Eric Olen. "We would have liked to get a few more defensive stops in the second half, but we made enough plays late to hang on for the victory."
UC San Diego was led offensively by guard Christian Bayne, who finished with 19 points, the bulk of those coming from a 13-for-14 performance at the free-throw line. He also added seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block to his totals. Bayne entered the game as the conference's free-throw percentage leader at .906, a number that ranked 20th in the nation. He now stands at .909, having made 90 of his 99 attempts from the charity stripe this season.
Guard Anthony Ballestero totaled 15 points and netted four three-pointers, while guard Christian Oshita had 12 points, five boards, an assist, and a block. Forward Eric Patton brought down 10 rebounds to establish a new career-high.
The Tritons shot 47.3 percent (26-55) for the game, which included a strong 56.5 (13-23) clip in the second half. They were able to convert 15 Monterey Bay turnovers into 23 points.
The Otters led for a brief time early in the opening half. A layup by forward Michael Shoemaker at the 15:39 mark put the Tritons up 7-5 and they led the rest of the way.
After leading by 12, 38-26, at halftime, forward Kennedy Koehler's layup with 14:01 left in the game moved UC San Diego in front by 20 points at 50-30. However, Cal State Monterey Bay proceeded to drain 10 three-pointers from that moment on. Jahvon Johnson's trey was the bucket that got the Otters back within five points, 82-77, with 35 ticks left before the Tritons were able to ice the win on four-straight points by Oshita.
CSUMB shot 54.8 percent (17-31) in the second half after making 40 percent (10-25) of its shots in the first frame. The Otters hit 15 three-pointers in the game.
Brian Garrett ended his night with a career-high 20 points for Monterey Bay. Johnson had 17, Josh Kollman totaled 15 after making five three-pointers, and Mateo Jones had 12. Jones completed a double-double by grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds.
It was the second time the two teams had met this season. On December 8 in La Jolla, Cal State Monterey Bay came away with a 78-76 overtime victory on UC San Diego's home court.
UC San Diego remains in Northern California to play at Cal State East Bay (8-9, 4-7 CCAA) on Saturday, January 13. Tip-off is slated for 3:30 p.m. in Hayward. The Pioneers dropped a 79-71 decision against Cal State San Marcos Thursday.