Photo Courtesy of UCSD Athletics
On a career scoring night off the bench by junior guard Gabe Hadley, the No. 4 UC San Diego Tritons (20–1, 14–1 California Collegiate Athletic Association) routed an outmatched Humboldt State University Lumberjacks squad (7–13, 3–12 CCAA) 85–63 for a team-record 12th consecutive win. Hadley had 18 points in the first half and finished with 25, his highest career scoring mark.
The Tritons returned to RIMAC Arena after defeating San Francisco State University and Sonoma State University by 25 and 35, respectively, last week. The match was preceded by a somber moment of silence for the recent deaths of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the seven other victims of a fatal helicopter crash last Sunday in Calabasas. The Lumberjacks led for the first few minutes of the game, but back-to-back three-pointers from redshirt sophomore guard Tyrell Roberts and senior forward Scott Everman brought the Tritons up 13–10 4 minutes in. On the defensive end, the Tritons were keyed by junior forward Marek Sullivan, who had a career-high four steals — all in the first half — to help the Tritons regain the lead.
However, an 11–2 run in the middle of the half gave the Lumberjacks a 23–17 lead with just under 9 minutes remaining. Hadley responded with a textbook turnaround midrange jumper, and on the next possession, Sullivan poked the ball to Peterson, who pushed the ball down the court until he found a cutting Sullivan for an easy transition dunk. Still, with 6 minutes remaining in the first, the Lumberjacks hung around, forcing a tie at 26 — but they didn’t count on the ensuring scoring clinic from Hadley.
First, he took the lead on a clean left-handed layup in traffic. After Humboldt State wrested the lead back with a three of its own, Hadley drained his first trey of the night from the left-center of the arc. Following a Lumberjack layup to tie, Hadley poured in another three, this time off of an in bounds pass from redshirt junior guard Mikey Howell. On the Tritons’ next possession, Hadley made yet another downtown shot from the left corner — and on the next possession, he scored a three yet again, his fourth in under 2 minutes. Soon after, Howell stole the ball and found the red-hot Hadley for a layup, capping off a remarkable run where Hadley scored 14 straight Triton points. He had 18 at the half, and the Tritons finally looked in control at the half, leading 44–38.
After the Lumberjacks came within 4 early in the second half, the Tritons’ offense finally began to click and pull away. Redshirt senior guard Christian Oshita muscled his way into the paint for a deft hook shot off the glass, then followed it up with a wide-open three on the next possession. This was followed by threes from Roberts and Hadley, and a pullup jumper off a spin move from Hadley capped off a 17–5 Triton run with the lead 61–43; in the first 10 minutes of the second period, the Tritons outscored the Lumberjacks by a whopping 26–7. Hadley scored his career-high 25th points on an acrobatic baseline reverse layup, as he switched from his right to his left to bring the lead to 80–57. The last few minutes of the game saw little of note, and the match ended with an 85–63 UCSD blowout.
The Tritons shot 45.1 percent from the field and a cool 15 for 33 (45.5 percent) from downtown; in addition to Hadley’s 25 points, Roberts added 17 and Everman 11. Howell led the team with seven assists, while Oshita grabbed a team-high nine boards. The win cements the Tritons’ 2.5-game lead over California State University, San Bernardino in the CCAA, as they seek their fourth consecutive conference title.