The UC San Diego men’s basketball team closed out the 2018-19 regular season with two home games against two conference rivals: California State University Monterey Bay and California State University East Bay. In both outings, the Tritons were able to come away with wins, lifting their overall record to 22–7, 17–5 in California Collegiate Athletic Conference play. With this week’s results, UCSD firmly places itself in second place in CCAA rankings. Though UCSD is technically tied with California State Polytechnic University Pomona in terms of conference record at 17–5, the Broncos beat the Tritons when they faced off in early February, giving them the tiebreaker, and the top seed in the CCAA playoff tournament.
In the final week of the regular season, the Tritons were able to handle business, stopping their sub-par play just at the right time. First, the team broke out of their slump in a big way, defeating CSUMB by a record-setting final score of 118–66 and then beating CSUEB 70–57.
In the two games, the Tritons outscored their opponents by a combined 74 points. Senior guard Christian Bayne was a consistent performer in both games. In the two games, the CCAA Player of the Week put up a combined 37 points. Redshirt junior center Chris Hansen had an explosive game against CSUEB, throwing down a team-high 26 points that night.
This was a nice bounce-back for the redshirt junior after he only put up 8 points in the previous game against CSUMB. In the final game against CSUEB, UCSD switched up its starting five, putting redshirt junior Ben Rico and senior Eric Patton in at forward and guard, instead of junior Scott Everman and redshirt sophomore Mikey Howell. It did not have a larger effect on the game (Everman and Howell, despite not starting, did log a significant amount of game minutes), but it is interesting to see bench players getting more playing time in preparation for the playoff push.
The Tritons hope to carry this momentum into the postseason. UCSD starts off the postseason with the CCAA tournament this week. On Tuesday, UCSD squares off against seventh-ranked California State University San Bernardino in the first round of the tournament.
During the regular season, the Seawolves and Tritons played twice: UCSD won the first matchup at RIMAC Arena 97–63 and San Bernardino took the second game 77–75. Though the Tritons handled the Seawolves in their first game, the game was played way back in November. San Bernardino had a lot of time to adjust and learn between games. And they did. The Seawolves were able to beat the Tritons in their next meeting in a close game. Despite the close score, San Bernardino’s ability to stay determined and come away with the win will be crucial, especially in elimination, tournament-style play.
UCSD closed out its season on a four-game winning streak, while CSUSB went out on a four-game losing streak. Their new-found momentum seems to be the key difference between the teams that will get the Tritons the win. The game against CSUSB will be a home game at RIMAC Arena on Tuesday, March 5 and tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.