UCSD Plays Coyote to Quicker Roadrunners

    The UCSD men’s basketball team ended its four-game losing streak on Jan. 12 with a hard fought 59-54 win over Cal State Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the team was unable to start a new winning streak after being outplayed in the second half of its Jan. 13 game against Cal State Bakersfield and losing by a decisive 67-36 advantage. The Tritons ended their five-game road trip with a 1-4 record and they currently hold a record of 4-8 overall and 2-5 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

    Erik Jepsen/Guardian
    There wasn’t much time for celebrating the close 59-54 victory over CSU Los Angeles on Jan. 12, as the Tritons fell to the Roadrunners on Jan. 13, dropping their overall record to 4-8.

    The Tritons traveled to Bakersfield, Calif., having beat the Roadrunners only once in the previous 14 meetings. Cal State Bakersfield, leading the CCAA with a 5-1 conference record prior to the matchup, was coming off of a 66-50 win over Cal State Dominguez Hills during its home opener on Jan. 12.

    Neither team found much success on the offensive end in the first half, with the Tritons shooting only five for 20 in the half and the Roadrunners unable to take advantage while hitting only three of their 11 three-point attempts. Cal State Bakersfield held its biggest first-half advantage, 21-8, with 4 minutes, 22 seconds left to play. UCSD was able to match its entire production to that point in the final four minutes, going on an 8-2 run following three-pointers by senior guard Robby Peters and sophomore forward Darryl Lawlor to close out the half down by only seven.

    The Roadrunners came out in the second half determined not to allow the Tritons to pull off upsets as they had earlier in the season against top-ranked Division II teams. Bakersfield scored the first six points in the second half and built an 18-point advantage with a 17-6 run in the first nine minutes of the second half. The Tritons, unable to cool the hot-shooting Roadrunners or deny them second chances on the boards, would never get closer than 16 points and never score more than three points in any minute during the rest of the game. The 31-point loss was UCSD’s biggest in conference play since early 2003.

    Cal State Bakersfield had two players in double digits, while seven points, a game-high nine assists and five rebounds went to senior guard Dwuan Rice, who also held junior guard Clint Allard, the Tritons’ leading scorer and among the top 10 scorers in the CCAA, scoreless in 23 minutes of play. Sophomore forward Henry Patterson was the only Triton in double figures with 12 points while also grabbing two rebounds, tying three others for team highs in that category. As a team, UCSD only shot 31.4 percent from the field and was out-rebounded 33-13.

    The Tritons fell behind early against Cal State Los Angeles, which scored the first six points of the opening period. However, this would be the biggest lead either team held during the game. UCSD grabbed its first lead on an Allard jump shot with 13:18 to play in the first half and didn’t trail again until an Eagles three-pointer with 4:37 left to play. The teams traded the lead twice more with the Eagles taking a slim two-point lead into the break.

    After the Tritons tied the game in the opening seconds of the final half, the Eagles would take the lead only twice more during the game, the final time following a dunk and two free-throws by Jontae Vinson that left the score 54-52 with just over three minutes to play.

    UCSD then clamped on the defensive pressure, forcing three turnovers and holding the Eagles scoreless throughout the end of the game, while two jumpers by Allard and a three from Peters gave the Tritons their first and only win of their five-game road trip.

    Neither team shot particularly well, both converting on less than 44 percent of their shot attempts. The Tritons, however, hit seven of 14 from long distance and held a slight advantage in both the rebounding, 32-30, and turnover, 11-13, categories. Vinson led the Eagles with a game-high 22 points and team-high seven rebounds. Sophomore forward Shane Poppen came off the bench for the first time during the season and led UCSD with 14 points on six-of-10 shooting from the field, while also grabbing seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Kelvin Kim added 11 points and two assists, while Lawlor scored seven points and notched game highs of five assists and eight rebounds.

    This disappointing start to the 2006-07 men’s basketball season comes as a surprise, given that the Tritons lost only one player to graduation, senior guard Odioh Odiye, at the end of a Division II- best 15-win season last year.

    Most fans and players were looking forward to an improvement upon last year’s impressive finish, but so far have been left to wonder what is wrong with this Triton team.

    The Tritons return home next weekend for the first time in over a month, facing No. 15 Cal State San Bernardino on Jan. 19 and No. 19 Cal Poly Pomona the following night. Both are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. tip-offs.

    The annual Triton Jam festival also takes place Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. with free food, games and a chance to meet both the UCSD men’s and women’s basketball teams.

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