Men's basketball drops opener at SDSU, 87-57

It is hard enough for the Division II UCSD men’s basketball team to go up against Division I San Diego State. It is even more difficult for the Tritons to hang with their cross-town rival when SDSU sets a team record for three-point field goals made in one game.

Tyler Huff

UCSD opened its 2002-03 basketball season with an 87-57 loss to the Aztecs before 4,401 fans at SDSU’s Cox Arena at Aztec Bowl on Dec. 2.

The game marked the third time that the Tritons and Aztecs have faced each other, and SDSU’s latest win gives it a 3-0 advantage in the young series between the two teams. In their first meeting in 2000, UCSD shot 32.1 percent in a game that the Aztecs won 80-48. Last season, the Tritons hit 35.8 percent of their field goals while SDSU shot 67.8 percent in its 98-53 victory.

The game on Dec. 2 began much like the earlier two contests. The Aztecs jumped out to a 21-7 lead within the game’s first nine minutes, which saw UCSD go just two for nine from the floor while SDSU hit half of its first 16 shot attempts.

Tyler Huff

However, the real story of the game came from behind the three-point arc. After Triton junior forward C.J. Duffaut made a long-rang connection to cut his team’s deficit to 36-24 with four minutes remaining in the first half, SDSU made three consecutive three-pointers, with two coming from freshman guard Steve Sir and another from senior guard Deandre Moore. That quickly pushed a 12-point Aztec lead to 21 points, and the first half ended with SDSU leading the Tritons 47-24.

In the second half, UCSD continued to allow perimeter shots when its zone defense sagged off SDSU guards to defend the Aztecs’ taller players near the basket. At the 15:40 mark of the second half, Sir hit a three-pointer, and then Moore converted on another the next time down the floor. After SDSU’s Tony Bland made a 10-footer, the Aztecs hit two more treys, and they broke their previous record of 13 threes made in a game. In all, five different SDSU players contributed to the team’s total of 16 three-pointers in its 30-point rout of the Tritons. Sir, who finished the game with 18 points, was six for 10 from behind the line.

UCSD played a solid game, considering it was playing against the toughest opponent that it will face all season. The Tritons found high-percentage, open shots against the bigger Aztecs on the offensive end of the court. In fact, UCSD hit 16 of its 28 attempts from inside the three-point line.

“”Our offense revolves around two things: three-point shots and lay-ups,”” said Triton head coach Greg Lanthier. “”We are able to get those good opportunities because we have the ability to shoot the three.””

Leading UCSD were junior guard Sean Crawford and sophomore center Jordan Watkins. Watkins was seven for 11 from the floor on his way to scoring 15 points and grabbing five rebounds. Crawford also contributed 15 points to the Triton offense, and he had two steals on the defensive end.

Going into the game, UCSD was not expecting anything more than gaining experience.

“”It is good experience for us to go and play a team as tough as [SDSU]. Anyone that we go play from here will definitely be a step down,”” Lanthier said.

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the Tritons have been careful to set reasonable goals, and the pre-season polls predicted UCSD to finish last in the conference.

“”We should always be picked to finish last. We don’t offer athletic scholarships, and our entrance exams are difficult,”” Lanthier said. “”We are much better than last year, though. Our realistic goal is to finish .500.””