Triton Basketball

After a disappointing season last year, the UCSD men’s basketball team has already equaled last year’s win total. But it still has a long way to go before becoming contenders.

Guardian file photo

After enduring a rough break that saw the Tritons go 3-6, they currently stand tied for last in the California Collegiate Athletic Association with a 1-5 league record and a 4-9 overall record.

At the end of November, the Tritons traveled north to participate in the Santa Cruz Invitational, which also featured Holy Names College, UC Santa Cruz and Willamette.

The Tritons drew Holy Names College in the first round and easily cruised past the Hawks 62-53. Led by senior guard Nick Christensen, who finished with 22 points, UCSD shot 50 percent from the field and had a commanding 35-19 lead by halftime. Junior Jody Woods added 12 points to the balanced Triton attack.

In the second round, UCSD squared off against UC Santa Cruz and beat its host 76-54. This time it was sophomore Ryan Swed who carried the Tritons, posting 18 points and nine rebounds in the victory.

The following weekend, UCSD faced Sonoma State University in its league opener and fell to the Cossacks 65-74. UCSD shot only 37.1 percent from the field and was out-rebounded 43-27 by the much larger Cossack team. Sophomore Ryan Rikansrud came off the bench to lead the Tritons with 19 points, while Christensen, Woods and freshman Hassan Bassiri all reached double figures.

The next day, UCSD hosted San Francisco State and by halftime had a 30-26 advantage over the Gators. Yet SFSU shot 52 percent in the second half en route to a 71-62 victory over the Tritons. Woods led UCSD with 15 points, while Bassiri added 10 points off the bench.

On Dec. 14 the Tritons battled Cal State Bakersfield and struggled against the Roadrunners, falling behind by 16 points at halftime and eventually losing 62-85. Christensen and freshman Jordan Watkins were the only UCSD players to score in double figures, while the Roadrunners had five players reach double digits.

A day later, the Tritons took on Cal State Stanislaus and earned their first league victory against the Warriors 71-57. Christensen again led the Tritons with 21 points on eight-of-12 shooting, and Watkins finished the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds to notch his first collegiate double-double.

On Dec. 28, the Tritons traveled to Alaska for the first time in school history to play two games against the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. The first game marked the return of sophomore guard Cameron Jackson to the starting lineup, but his 10 points weren’t enough because UCSD fell to the Nanooks 50-67. It was the first win for UAF, which had previously lost its first eight games of the season.

The second game was much closer, but had the same result when the Tritons again lost to the Nanooks 74-76. Ryan Swed led UCSD with 17 points, however UAF received 41 points from its bench to overcome the Tritons.

So far, January hasn’t proven to be a kind month for the Tritons — they hit the road and dropped a 50-77 decision Friday night against Cal State Los Angeles, then were handed their fourth loss in a row by Cal State Dominguez Hills on Saturday 81-87.

The Tritons will try to end their losing streak Jan. 11, when they host Cal Poly Pomona at RIMAC Arena.