The Tritons Learn a Division I Lesson

    In its first Division II game, the UCSD men’s basketball team was unable to net a victory against cross-town rivals Division I San Diego State University Saturday night at Cox Arena.

    David Pilz/

    The 80-48 UCSD loss ended a 17-game losing streak for the Aztecs, and it was the first time the teams had met since 1981, when the Tritons were also defeated.

    Ten of UCSD’s 15 players are freshmen, and the Tritons are slated to finish 11th out of 12 teams in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, according to a recent pre-season CCAA Coaches’ Poll.

    SDSU captured the tip-off and began the game with a lay-up at 18:44 by Aztec Karlo Koviac. UCSD was unable to halt a six-point, two-and-a-half-minute-long streak, until freshman forward Ryan Swed sank a three-point shot from the corner at 16:27, which set a pattern for the rest of the half.

    The Aztecs retaliated with an outside shot for themselves seconds later, bringing the score to 9-3.

    The ball rallied back and forth, with State adding several lay-ups, one free throw and a dunk. The Tritons’ only scores in the first half came from three pointers. They made six of 23 attempts, shooting a .261 three-point field goal percentage. In the second half, with two more attempted baskets, the percentage was .214.

    “”It was one of our first games for this season, and we do have a lot of young guys,”” said UCSD head coach Greg Lanthier. “”The timing was a little off, and I think we shot a little quicker than we should have. We didn’t shoot as well as we are capable of.””

    In the last 10 minutes of the half, the Tritons missed 10 straight field goals before Swed assisted senior forward Sam Higgins, who sunk a three pointer with 2:22 left in the half.

    While UCSD was quiet in the field, SDSU made three turnovers, all by junior Randy Holcomb, and also made a few baskets.

    Higgins’ score brought the score to a 33-18 Aztec lead, but SDSU added another lay-up less than two minutes before the buzzer, to end the half at 35-18.

    SDSU enjoyed a 48 percent field goal percentage in the first half, and it ended the game with 55 percent overall.

    “”I liked this game,”” Fisher said. “”I was very happy to look around and see a respectable crowd. I thought we played hard and defended efficiently.””

    When asked why the season opener matched a Division I team with one of Division II, Fisher answered that all over the country this type of match up is occurring, and the difference in rankings only serves to help both teams see what each needs to focus on.

    Lanthier agreed. “”We were outmatched physically, but this was the first time in a collegiate situation for a lot of our players. It shows them how things can be, and what needs work.””

    Thirty seconds into the second half, SDSU scored a three pointer, which the Tritons answered with a trio of lay-ups, bringing the score to 43-24 SDSU.

    The Aztecs almost doubled the score at 61-32 with 9:08 left in the game. The Tritons, unable to pull ahead for the remainder of the game, threw in a basket and another trio of threes against four foul shots and five points off baskets for SDSU.

    “”We really had nothing to lose by going into this game against a Division I team,”” said freshman guard Roger Curtis. “”Most of us were stepping out onto the college game court for the first time. You just have to take the experience and keep going.””

    Overall, UCSD shot .321 from the field, with Higgins and senior forward Cole Miller leading in points, with 11 each. Higgins was also strong on the boards, with a game high seven rebounds. SDSU’s top scorer, Randy Holcomb, poured in 15 points.

    UCSD will meet Cal Poly San Louis Obispo Nov. 20, and the next home game will be held after Thanksgiving on Nov. 29 against Christian Heritage at 7 p.m.

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