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.
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.