Photo by: Christopher Oertell/WOU
Mikey Howell, Anthony Ballestero, and Christian Oshita.

Season Ends With 81-67 Loss to No. 21 California Baptist in NCAA Regional Quarterfinal


MONMOUTH, Ore. - Another outstanding season for the University of California San Diego men's basketball team came to a close Friday as the Tritons were defeated, 81-67, by 21st-ranked California Baptist in an NCAA Division II West Regional quarterfinal at Western Oregon University.

CBU, the tournament's third seed, engineered a big second half, making almost 67 percent of its shots, hitting nine 3-pointers, and out-scoring sixth-seeded UC San Diego 46-35. The Lancers led by just three points, 35-32, at halftime.

UCSD wrapped up its campaign at 21-11, the third-straight season that the team finished with at least 20 victories. The Tritons were playing in the NCAA Championship for the third-consecutive year and fourth time overall (2008, 2016, 2017, 2018). They advanced to the West Regional title game (Sweet 16) in 2016 and 2017.

California Baptist (26-5) moves on to play seventh-seeded Azusa Pacific in a regional semifinal on Saturday, March 10.

Junior guard/forward Christian Oshita led the Tritons with 23 points. He was 10-for-19 shooting while adding three rebounds, three assists, and a steal. Over the season, Oshita scored at least 10 points in 30 of 32 games and dropped 20-plus on 10 occasions.

Two others hit double-digit point totals for UCSD, including junior guard Christian Bayne (18) and senior forward Michael Shoemaker (12). Bayne was 7-for-13 from the field with three assists and two steals. He hauled in a game-high seven rebounds as well. Shoemaker scored the 12 points with three boards, an assist, and a steal in just 25 minutes. Redshirt freshman guard Mikey Howell set a new personal best with seven assists.

UC San Diego made 45.9 percent (28-61) of its shots for the game, but struggled in the second half, hitting at just a 38.2 percent (13-34) clip. In the opening half, it shot an impressive 55.6 percent (15-27). The team made seven of 22 3-point attempts, 31.8 percent, in the game.

UCSD went to the free throw line just five times, matching a season-low. The Tritons were out-rebounded, 34-22.

California Baptist got a game-high 26 points from Jordan Heading, who netted six treys while also collecting six assists, four rebounds, and two steals. Cory Lange hit four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points, while Kalidou Diouf totaled 13 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.

The Lancers hit 14 3-pointers and shot 56.5 percent (24-46) overall.

California Baptist led by 11 (23-12) with 7:59 left in the first half. However, UC San Diego went on a 14-2 run and a 3-pointer by Bayne gave the Tritons their first lead, 26-25, at the 4:16 mark. Tied at 32-32, CBU's Jason Todd sunk a 3-pointer with just three seconds left to send the Lancers to the locker room with a three-point lead.

Shoemaker opened the second half with a trey to tie it at 35-35. A Diouf jumper in the paint put California Baptist back in front, and it stayed ahead the rest of the way. Bayne made a three with 7:50 left to get the Tritons within two (55-53), but the Lancers mounted a 12-4 run, backed by eight points from Heading, and led by 10, 67-57, with 4:12 on the clock.

An Oshita 3-pointer with :51 remaining had the Tritons back within eight (75-67), but the Lancers scored the final six points of the game, four of those on free throws.

UC San Diego entered the game with a 2-0 record against California Baptist in NCAA Division II postseason play as the Tritons defeated the Lancers in regional semifinals in 2016 and 2017. CBU was victorious, 78-73, in a regular season game against UCSD back on Nov. 18, 2017.

It was the final career game for Triton seniors Shoemaker, guard Anthony Ballestero, guard George Buaku, forward Kenny Fraser, and forward Brett Oosdyke.

UCSD earned its spot in the NCAA Championship by winning its second-straight California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship last week in Pomona.

Friday's late quarterfinals feature Saint Martin's (No. 5 seed) vs. Cal Poly Pomona (No. 4 seed) and Point Loma (No. 8 seed) against Western Oregon (No. 1 seed).

The West Region championship game is slated for Monday, March 12, with the winner advancing to the Elite 8.


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