Tritons beat 10th-ranked Broncos

    Back from its four-game road trip, the UCSD men’s basketball team returned to RIMAC Arena last weekend to split two games against Cal Poly Pomona and California Collegiate Athletic Association leader Cal State San Bernardino.

    Anna MacMurdo
    Guardian

    The Tritons took on Cal Poly Pomona and played their top game Friday night at RIMAC Arena.

    UCSD defeated the Broncos, who entered the game as the second-place team in the CCAA and 10th overall in the West Region of Division II.

    The Tritons were explosive from the start. UCSD forward Ryan Swed launched the UCSD offensive attack with a three-point shot within the first minute of the game. Swed finished with 17 points and made five of eight baskets from beyond the three-point arc. This marks the fourth time Swed has made five or more three pointers in a game.

    Anna MacMurdo
    Guardian

    The Tritons capitalized on alley-oop passes to Jody Woods, who scored 17 points in the game, and on fast-break opportunities from freshman guard Hassan Bassiri. Triton sophomore C.J. Duffant exerted tremendous effort scrambling for loose balls and taking charges.

    Minutes before the first half ended, Triton forward Ryan Rikansrud took an elbow to the face, breaking his broken nose. Rikansrud left the game immediately. He went to the hospital as the second half began.

    “”Every time you lose someone it affects us, but I think we were pretty determined tonight,”” said UCSD head coach Greg Lanthier. “”We were focused and we were able to overcome [the loss of Rikansrud].””

    With seconds to go in the first half, Cal Poly Pomona played for last possession. The Broncos ran out the shot clock and drove the lane for a lay-up to bring them within two points of UCSD at halftime.

    The Broncos played without leading scorer Lucas LeCour for most of the first half. LeCour acquired three fouls within the first five minutes of play.

    Cal Poly Pomona scored immediately in the second half to tie the game at 36. Offensively, the Broncos drove the lane and got inside for multiple shot attempts from within the key, but failed to connect in many point opportunities.

    Jeff Bonds led the Broncos with 15 points. Rafael Zielonka added nine points and nine rebounds, while LeCour also scored nine points.

    Cal Poly Pomona took its only lead 54-52 with 11:28 to go in the game, but UCSD refused to give in. The Tritons regrouped, regained the lead and never trailed again.

    The Triton defensive unit improved in the second half by preventing Bronco offensive rebounds and blocking shots.

    UCSD center Jordan Watkins contributed 12 points and had a team-high seven rebounds.

    “”We were very aggressive and we had a lot of positive thoughts,”” Lanthier said of his team’s effort against the Broncos.

    The last minute of the game was intense for both teams. Up by six off a Swed three-pointer, the Tritons accidentally fouled the Broncos and gave them the opportunity to get within four points.

    At 68-64, the Tritons regained possession of the ball and Bonds fouled UCSD’s Nick Christensen with 25 seconds left on the clock. Christensen sank both free throws.

    Cal Poly Pomona had one last chance when they pushed the ball down court and attempted a field goal, but they missed the shot and UCSD came down with the rebound.

    The 70-64 Triton victory over the 10th-ranked Broncos snapped UCSD’s four-game losing streak and was the biggest upset in UCSD men’s basketball history since moving up to Division II.

    With the loss, Cal Poly Pomona falls to 8-4 overall and 5-2 in league.

    “”We believed in ourselves and [the team] just did everything that we needed to do to win.”” Lanthier said. “”It was a great win for us.””

    It was UCSD’s second victory in the CCAA and its second straight victory at home. The win was a confidence builder heading into Saturday night’s game against undefeated Cal State San Bernardino.

    Cal State San Bernardino, the two-time defending CCAA champion, is ranked second in the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II poll, and is ranked first in the West Region.

    “”We were positive and upbeat [coming into the game],”” Lanthier said.

    San Bernardino pressed UCSD in the backcourt from the start. The Coyotes forced three Triton turnovers within the first three minutes of play.

    While the lead changed throughout the first half, the scrappy, tenacious and substantially smaller UCSD squad played equally with the Coyotes and ended the half down by just two points 33-31.

    Unfortunately, the second period proved problematic for the Tritons.

    “”We were able to keep [the intensity] up for 20 minutes, but then we just lost it,”” Lanthier said. “”Our tank was empty and we just missed shots.””

    The Coyotes came out strong after halftime and never looked back. They outscored UCSD 41-23 in the second half with five Coyotes finishing the game scoring in double figures. San Bernardino converted all 13 second-half free-throw shots and held UCSD to just 27 percent field-goal shooting.

    James Taylor and 2000-01 CCAA Player of the Year Bobby Burries led the Coyotes with 14 points each. Glenn Summerall, Lance Ray and Brady Bennett each contributed 11 points, and Tellys Knight had eight rebounds in the winning effort.

    Christensen led the Tritons with 12 points, while sophomore Cameron Jackson notched 11.

    San Bernardino beat UCSD 74-54.

    “”It was a tough second night for us, but our guys did a good job,”” Lanthier said. “”That team is so physical and so mature compared to a lot of our young guys, but I thought we played well. We just didn’t do the important thing [tonight], which is make shots.””

    With the win, the Coyotes improve to 8-0, 13-0 overall. The Tritons are 2-6, 5-10 overall.

    Next for UCSD are road games against Chico State and UC Davis. But the Tritons will return to RIMAC Arena on Jan. 23 for a battle against Grand Canyon University.

    “”We are still a year away from the [the maturity of the Coyotes],”” Lanthier said. “”But we are doing well with the talent that we have and we will remain a competitive force for the season’s entirety.””

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