Tritons take hard hit from defending CCAA champs

    The UCSD men’s basketball team dropped back-to-back home games over the past week, falling 80-61 to defending California Collegiate Athletic Association champion Cal State San Bernardino on Jan. 12, and coming up short in an 87-82 loss to Cal State Monterey Bay on Jan. 14. The losses at RIMAC Arena drop UCSD to 5-7 overall, and 2-4 in CCAA play.

    UCSD scored the first points of the game against the Coyotes, but never led after that. The Tritons closed to within seven points with just under three minutes left in the first half, but the Coyotes proved to be too much, pushing the lead to 13 at halftime and never looking back in the second half.

    San Bernardino guard Trennel Eddings led all scorers with 22 points, going 6-for-8 from three-point range. James Perkins and Brian Pruitt contributed 14 and 10 points, respectively. Antoine Parker helped distribute the ball by dishing out a game-high six assists.

    The Tritons got strong games from freshman guards Joey Toboni and Clint Allard, who tied for the team lead with 12 points apiece.

    Another rookie member of the team, junior transfer guard Odioh Odiyeh, added 11 points, three assists and three rebounds. Toboni also led the team in rebounding with four boards in 17 minutes off the bench.

    The Tritons shot over 50 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from long distance in the second half, compared to 33.3 percent and 20 percent in the first half.

    However, the Coyotes, who had good ball movement with 23 assists to UCSD’s 14, also heated up in the second half, shooting 65.5 percent from the field and maintaining their lead.

    The Tritons played tough in the loss, narrowly forfeiting the rebounding battle, 30-27, but countering the effort with 22 turnovers.

    The Tritons had another good second-half shooting performance against Cal State Monterey Bay, but a cold first half was too much to overcome.

    The Otters, in their first year of CCAA play, improved to 7-5 overall, and 4-1 in conference action, despite the Tritons having better free-throw, field-goal and three-point shooting percentages in the game.

    The Tritons struggled through the first half with a 25-percent field-goal percentage on 6-for-24 shooting, while turning the ball over 12 times.

    The Otters took advantage of the opportunities to take a 14-point lead into halftime. The second half was more of the same, with Monterey Bay taking a 19-point lead at 48-29 with under 15 minutes left to play.

    The Tritons weren’t ready to lose in their first match-up with the Otters, but were able to come within 10 points at the 8:42 mark after a block, rebound and lay-up by sophomore forward Zackary Craddock.

    UCSD worked itself to within four points of leading twice in the next two minutes, but the Otters held off the charge and pushed the lead back to 15 with just under two minutes to play.

    The Tritons refused to just lie down, exploding with 20 points in the last two minutes, but the rally came up short as Cal State Monterey Bay held on for the five-point victory.

    Odiyeh, Toboni and Allard all scored in the double-digits again, with Toboni and Allard scoring 14 apiece and Odiyeh leading the team with a career-high 17. Parker Berling rounded out the Tritons in double-digits with 12 points.

    The Otters were led by a game-high 18 points from forward Will Brown, and received 17 points off the bench from Darryl Anderson.

    Forward Jared Jungwirth earned a double-double in the game with 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

    Both teams pulled in 37 rebounds, but the Tritons recorded seven blocks to the Otters’ one.

    After 12 first-half turnovers, the Tritons were much more careful with the ball in the second, turning it over only three more times. The Otters had 13 turnovers of their own, and 10 steals to the Tritons’ eight.

    UCSD will look to end its three-game losing streak next week with a pair of road games. The Tritons will take to the court against Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson, Calif., on Jan. 21 before taking on Cal Poly Pomona at Kellogg Gym in Pomona the next night. Both games are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

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