Tritons Eye Regional Playoff Appearance

SPORTS-mballfeb13-20090216122929-5-CW

By Joe Tevelowitz & Cameron Tillisch
Senior Staff Writers

The UCSD men’s basketball team faced off against San Diego State in an exhibition game at the Viejas Arena to kickoff the unofficial start of its 2009-10 season. The Tritons, coming off consecutive winning seasons for the first time at the Division-II level, hung tough with the Aztecs throughout the game’s first half before falling behind after intermission. Ultimately, UCSD lost 77-52 to its cross-town opponents.

The Aztecs start their year off 1-0, while UCSD will play its first 2009-10 regular-season games next weekend.

“I think we competed well against a team that’s probably the best were going to see all year,” head coach of three years Chris Carlson said. “We look like a college basketball team. I was encouraged by our performance today, but we have a long way to go.”

The Tritons started the game with a lineup in which sophomore center Christian Hatch was the only player standing taller than 6-feet-4 inches — a huge size disadvantage against the menacing Aztec frontcourt. However, the Tritons stayed aggressive on defense and attacked the boards, limiting SDSU to only five second-chance points in the first half.

Trailing by as many as eight points in the first quarter, UCSD took advantage of their deep bench and capitalized on opportunities under the basket to inch back into the game. A runner from senior guard Tyler Acevedo cut the Aztec’s lead to one with only 7:31 remaining in the first half. Acevedo then tied the game just over a minute later, hitting a three-pointer off an assist from junior guard Casey Ryan after a turnover by Aztec guard D.J. Gay.

Both teams remained scoreless for nearly three minutes before junior forward Malcolm Thomas converted a fast-break layup opportunity for San Diego State with 3:45 remaining in the half. The Tritons didn’t score again until there was 2:23 left in the half, when sophomore forward Scott Krizman converted UCSD’s only two free-throw opportunities of the first half.

UCSD tied the game again at 1:16 after junior center Andrew Browning put back Krizman’s missed jumper, and Ryan followed Acevedo’s steal with a jumper of his own. Coming out of a timeout tied at 28 — with 51.6 seconds left before intermission — Krizman was called for a foul on a defensive rebound attempt, and Thomas hit one of two from the line for the Aztecs. Thomas then recorded a steal and a quick layup to push the home lead back to three.

The Tritons had the last shot opportunity of the half, but Acevedo missed a potential game-tying three-pointer and UCSD headed to the locker room down 31-28.

San Diego State scored 17 unanswered points to open the second half while the Tritons missed their first 13 shots attempts. UCSD made six of their next seven shots from the field — three by senior guard Jordan Lawley — but the Aztecs maintained their advantage. San Diego State led by as much as 25 down the stretch and held on for the win, improving to 11-0 all-time against UCSD.

“[We] definitely had some strong points early on, but toward the end after halftime I thought we fell off a little bit,” Acevedo said. “The intensity in the first five minutes was pivotal, and we didn’t match their intensity.”

The Aztecs — winning a record 26 games last season and trying for a fifth-straight postseason berth — beat UCSD despite the absence of their top returning scorer, Billy White.

“We competed for a half; I thought we did some good things,” Carlson said. “I thought we took way too many [three-pointers]. We settled a lot for stuff in the perimeter. When we attacked the basket, we got some good results. I thought we got better today. That’s one of the things I was really looking to see — whether we competed.”

Acevedo led the way for UCSD in the exhibition loss, sinking 14 points in 24 minutes off the bench. Ryan recorded team highs of eight rebounds and four assists along with scoring eight points. Lawley was UCSD’s second leading scorer, putting up nine points. Freshman Justin Brue made a strong debut for the Tritons, scoring six points and grabbing three boards.

“We really got to get after it, because now we’re out of the exhibition season and now we’re into non-conference,” Acevedo said. “We’re growing as the season goes along, and today was a big learning curve.”

UCSD will head to Pueblo, Co. for their first regular-season game of the year, taking on Western State College on Nov. 20 as part of the Al Kaly Classic.

Readers can contact Joe Tevelowitz at [email protected] or Cameron Tillisch at [email protected].

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$200
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$200
$500
Contributed
Our Goal