Coming off of a strong showing against Cal State Stanislaus, the UCSD men’s basketball team was hoping to ride their regained momentum into the postseason.
Unfortunately, that momentum hit a pothole and sent the team spiraling into disarray for part of their game against Cal State San Marcos. The No. 13 Tritons dropped to 19–5 overall and 14–4 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, and the Cougars climbed to 14–10 overall and 10–7 in conference.
While the opening minutes were a fairly tight affair, a dry spell on the offense from the Tritons halfway through the period allowed the Cougars to take a suffocating lead by the end of the half. The Cougar defense held the normally tough Triton offense to a mere 7–24 shooting overall while also out-rebounding the Tritons 20–13, allowing the Cougars to dictate the pace of the game. With the deficit at 18 heading into halftime, the Tritons’ prospects of a comeback appeared fairly slim.
But while they would never regain the lead, the Tritons surely made the game interesting by the end of the night. A well timed three-pointer by senior forward Drew Dyer would kickstart the Triton offense, turning it back into the well-oiled machine that had won most of the games this season. Then, within a little over nine minutes, a three-pointer from junior guard Adam Klie would put the Tritons within just three points of the Cougars. Sadly, the Tritons just couldn’t hang in there, as the Cougars would eventually bring the lead back to 10 and soon close out the game 78–72.
Despite the loss, the stellar efforts of sophomore guard Grant Jackson in the second half cannot be ignored. Jackson’s 25 points were a key component in making the game close in the second half. Also driving the comeback train was Dyer, who scored all 18 of his points in the second half. The Tritons’ 17–31 shooting overall in the second half was a far cry from their abysmal first half.
“We didn’t play with a sense of urgency that we need to have in the first half and we dug ourselves a big hole,” UCSD Head Coach Eric Olen told the UCSD Athletics Department. “We found the energy we needed in the second half, but it was too little, too late.”
The Tritons will finish out their season at home against San Francisco State and Sonoma State on Feb. 26 and Feb. 27, respectively.