Tritons Win Fifth Straight Game After 16-Point Comeback

Capping off a five-game win streak, the No. 6 UC San Diego men’s basketball team came back from a 16-point first-half deficit to defeat the California State University, East Bay Pioneers 76–73. The win lifted the Tritons to 13–1 overall and 7–1 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, despite missing their captain and leading scorer, senior center Chris Hansen, for the last six contests. To make up for the missing Hansen, senior forward Scott Everman dropped 21 points in what was his biggest game of the season. 

The Tritons were blindsided early on; just five minutes into the game, they faced a 15–2 deficit. But after a 20–10 run to close out the half, UCSD found itself down only three points entering halftime. 

In the second half, the Tritons didn’t lead until seven minutes in, after an Everman fast-break layup pushed the score up to 45–44. The lead evaporated though after a pair of Pioneer three-pointers, and the Tritons trailed 55–53 with over nine minutes left in the game. 

Redshirt junior guard Mikey Howell (who became just the fifth Triton to reach 300 career assists during this game) took over, scoring the game’s next six points to give the Tritons a four-point lead with eight minutes remaining. 

UCSD grew its lead to 10 with just three minutes to go, but CSUEB responded with a late 12–3 run, capped off by a three-pointer from guard Trent Warren that brought the teams within one point with just 12 seconds on the clock. With the game on the line, redshirt sophomore guard Tyrell Roberts hit both free throws with four seconds remaining to close the game out. Two Tritons finished with double-doubles: Howell, with 14 points and 11 assists, and junior forward Marek Sullivan, with 12 points and 11 rebounds, the junior transfer who has been Hansen’s replacement in the starting lineup.

Saturday’s match was preceded by four straight double-digit wins over CCAA opponents, beginning with a Dec. 17th matchup at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Coming off the first loss of the season, junior guard Gabe Hadley put on a clinic, making six of eight three-pointers and scoring a game-high 22 off the bench. UCSD shot a scorching 61.5 percent from three, and they never trailed on their way to an 84–65 win.

Two nights later against Sonoma State University, the Tritons dominated the first half, up 49–29 after a 23–7 run to close out the period. The early effort was led by 18 first-half points from redshirt senior guard Christian Oshita. In the second, Sonoma State never got within single digits, as the Tritons cruised to an 84–69 win. UCSD was once again led by Hadley, as he made five three-pointers on his way to a game-high 19 points; Mikey Howell added 8 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds.

On Dec. 22, UCSD started off slow against the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona Broncos; Hadley, the highest-scoring Triton in the last two contests, finished scoreless. The first half was a low-scoring and even affair, and the Tritons entered halftime trailing 27–24. But in the second half, the Tritons took the lead on an Oshita three-pointer with nine and a half minutes remaining and never trailed again, winning 66–56. Tyrell Roberts’ 19 points, as well as a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double from Oshita, led the Tritons to victory.

The Tritons returned to face last-place California State University, Monterey Bay on Jan. 2. Once again, the Tritons never trailed, riding 19 first-half points from Oshita to a 52–34 halftime lead. UCSD spent the entire second half with a double-digit lead, on its way to a 94–72 rout. Oshita led the team with 27 points, and Howell was all over the stat sheet, scoring 11 along with 10 assists and eight rebounds.

The Tritons play their next two games on the road against California State University, Stanislaus and Humboldt State University, looking to remain atop the CCAA and keep their win streak alive.