Photo Courtesy UCSD Athletics
In a rematch against the California State University, Chico Wildcats squad that handed them their only loss of the season, the No. 4 UC San Diego Tritons rode a 30-point performance from redshirt sophomore guard Tyrell Roberts to an 82–74 victory at Art Acker Gym in Chico. Redshirt senior guard Christian Oshita added 20 points of his own to help the Tritons to their 14th straight win, as they improve to 22–1 overall and 16–1 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
Both teams entered the match tied in the all-time series between Chico State and UCSD, at sixteen games apiece; their last contest was an 83–71 loss by the Tritons at home on December 5th, the Tritons’ sole loss of the regular season to date. The Tritons came out with a blazing start; after both teams traded a couple of baskets, UCSD went on a 14–0 run on 2 straight three-pointers from senior forward Scott Everman, an Oshita three, and a jumper, then a three from Roberts. With just 4:11 off the clock, the Tritons led 19–4.
Another Roberts three and an Oshita layup gave UCSD a commanding 24–6 advantage with 11:03 still to go in the first half. The Tritons would lead by double digits until just before the final minute of the period, and a fast-break layup by the Wildcats with just five seconds remaining had the Triton lead cut down to just 37–28 going into the half.
Coming out of the half, Chico State was determined to make a change to avoid having the match slip away, but 3 three-pointers from Oshita and one from Roberts in the first 5 minutes of the half kept the Wildcats at bay. Another Oshita three with 13:53 remaining had the lead back up to 59–41. Soon after, however, Chico State finally got its offense in gear, rattling off an 11–0 run to bring the game to within just seven points with 8:16 to go.
After both teams traded points for the next few minutes, the Wildcats finally brought the Triton lead down to just 68–64, the lowest since the first minutes of the game. But, with a free throw and paint jumper from Oshita followed by a three by junior guard Gabe Hadley, the Tritons brought the lead back up to double digits with 4 minutes remaining. In the final minute of the game, the Wildcats came within 4 once again, but a Roberts three-pointer pushed the lead to 7 after Roberts made one of 2 free throws with 28 seconds to go to bring the score to 80–74, Oshita made a key steal, and Roberts hit both free throws this time to ice the game, as the Tritons won 82–74.
It was a familiar hot shooting night from downtown for the Tritons, who shot an efficient 16-for-30 (53.3 percent) from behind the arc, including a blistering 9-of-13 (69.2 percent) in the second half. Roberts set a personal best with 7 three-pointers; in addition to his 30 points on 9-of-17 shooting, Roberts added 6 assists, as did Oshita. Despite being scoreless, redshirt junior guard Mikey Howell left his mark with a team-high 9 assists, as well as 5 rebounds.
The Tritons will try for their fifteenth and sixteenth wins in a row as they welcome California State University, Dominguez Hills and California State University, Los Angeles to RIMAC Arena on the 13th and 15th, respectively; after that, they’ll conclude the regular season with three road matchups against California State Universities East Bay, Monterey Bay, and San Marcos.