ARCATA, Calif. - The UC San Diego men's basketball team fended off the Lumberjacks of Humboldt State by a score of 72-69 on Saturday at Lumberjack Arena to achieve its first conference win of the season and its first-ever win at Humboldt.
"I am so very proud of our effort tonight," said Tritons head coach Chris Carlson. "It is never an easy game here and our mental toughness was superb. We have to build on this."
Prior to Saturday's victory, the Tritons were 0-8 all-time at Humboldt State.
The Tritons climb to 2-7 overall and 1-5 in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play. They will return to their domain at RIMAC Arena to host the Wildcats of Chico State (7-3, 4-2 CCAA) on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Freshman forward/guard Drew Dyer led all scorers with a career-high 17 points and had six rebounds and two assists as well. Three Tritons also scored in double digits, including junior guard James McCann, junior guard/forward MacKenzie McCullough and senior guard Tyler McGrath.
McCann and McGrath both finished with 16 points. McCann also had seven rebounds and five assists while McGrath had two rebounds and one assist. McCullough contributed 11 points in addition to a rebound, an assist and a steal.
Senior forward Darren Turpin had a team-high 15 points for HSU to go along with five rebounds, one assist and one block.
Despite making 27 field goals to the Lumberjacks' 29, the Tritons made eight three-pointers compared to five made by HSU in the game. In addition, UCSD converted four more free throws than the Lumberjacks, 10-6.
The Lumberjacks opened the second half with a narrow 34-33 lead, which they extended with senior forward Aaron Chamberlain's layup 1:08 into the second half to lead, 36-33.
However, senior forward/center Colin Porter answered Chamberlain's score with a layup on the next possession, bringing the deficit back to a point, 36-35, at the 18:33 mark. But with Dyer's layup 16 seconds later, the Tritons took their first lead, 37-36, since the 5:31 mark of the first half. This was important because even though the teams tied four more times in the second half, UCSD never surrendered the lead to the Lumberjacks.
The score was 64-64 during the seventh and final tie of the game with 5:06 left in regulation after sophomore guard Nathan Hentley nailed a three-pointer. However, McCann was fouled at the 4:05 mark and was sent to the free-throw line, where he made both shots to give the Tritons a 66-64 lead.
The lead reached four with McCullough's layup on the next possession with 3:45 to go before the buzzer. On this score, Porter was credited with the steal and McCann earned the assist.
"Colin Porter gave us great minutes and our defense really stepped up in the second half," Carlson said.
Despite Turpin bringing the Lumberjacks to within a point, 68-67, with 3:19 to play in the game, McCann went to the line at the 1:52 mark and made both of his free throws to increase the UCSD lead to three points, 70-67.
Turpin then hit a jumper with only 39 seconds left. However, McCann returned the lead and the eventual margin of victory to three points, 72-69, following his layup with just 24 seconds to go in the game.
The game opened with Turpin nailing a jumper 38 seconds into the contest. Turpin's jumper was met 16 seconds later with a layup by McGrath, signifying the game's first tie.
HSU led by as many as six when junior guard Austin Bryan dunked the ball at the 15:50 mark, giving the Lumberjacks a 10-4 lead.
After scoring five unanswered points, the Tritons tied the game, 15-15, when McCullough hit a three-pointer with 12:27 left to play in the opening half.
Nearly seven minutes later, the Tritons experienced their first taste of the lead in the game at the 5:31 reading when McCann made a three-pointer to make the score, 31-29.
A jumper by senior forward Alec Williams of the Lumberjacks with 3:20 left tied the game, 31-31. Williams' basket was followed by Bryan's three-pointer at the 2:41 mark, causing the score to become 34-33 while marking the game's second lead change.
Porter's layup with 49 seconds remaining kept the Tritons within a free throw of the Lumberjacks as they went into the half with a 34-33 lead.
The Lumberjacks (5-5, 1-5 CCAA) begin a road trip at Cal State East Bay (4-6, 3-3 CCAA) on Friday in a game beginning at 7:30 p.m.
-- UCSDtritons.com --