Tritons Drop Pair of Games at Shrine Classic

Senior guard Jordan Lawley scored 21 points in UCSD’s Nov. 20 season-opening game against Western State. Lawley and the Tritons used a late-game push to force overtime, but ultimately lost 71-63 (John Hanacek/Guardian File).

By Joe Tevelowitz & Cameron Tillisch
Senior Staff Writers

MEN’S BASKETBALL — Following a tough loss to Division-I neighbor San Diego State, the UCSD men’s basketball team traveled to the Al Kaly Shrine Classic in Pueblo, Colo., on Nov. 20, hoping to open their regular-season schedule with a win. Despite a strong effort, the Tritons dropped both tournament games, falling 71-63 in overtime against Western State College on Nov. 20 before dropping a 61-43 decision to host Colorado State University-Pueblo the following day.

UCSD (0-2) will now prepare for the start of their California Collegiate Athletic Association tour: an away game at Cal State San Bernardino on Dec. 4.

A slow start by the Tritons was the difference in the game against CSU-Pueblo. The ThunderWolves outscored UCSD 11-0 during a key eight-minute stretch in the first half of the game. However, the Tritons shot only 21 percent from the field in the first half — hitting just 4-19 shot attempts — their defense was able to hold the ThunderWolves to 36.4 percent shooting and 0 for 11 from the three-point range before halftime. But CSU-Pueblo managed to build a 14-point lead at the break — thanks in large part to 12 first-half steals.

Junior guard Casey Ryan scored 12 points and hauled in a game-high 11 rebounds, but his effort wasn’t enough — UCSD could not climb within nine points of the ThunderWolves in the second half.

“We just kind of ran out of gas,” Carlson said. “Their pressure really bothered us. We expended a lot of energy trying to get back into the game.”

CSU-Pueblo’s Daniel Pierce scored a game-high 19 points to lead the host team to victory. Freshman guard Dylan Bohanan provided a bright streak for the Tritons, scoring seven points with four rebounds within 15 minutes off the bench.

CSU-Pueblo shot at a 45-percent clip in the second half. The Tritons, on the other hand, finished shooting under 32 percent for the game and recorded only three assists. The ThunderWolves finished the game with 17 steals and outscored the Tritons 25-9 on points off turnovers.

The loss to CSU-Pueblo came on the heels of the Tritons’ tournament-opening defeat to Western State the previous night. They allowed a late lead to slip away to the Mountaineers — despite a solid showing from senior guard Jordan Lawley, who turned in a team-high 21 points and four assists, along with nine rebounds.

UCSD’s first victory of the year seemed to appear on the horizon after Lawley’s three-pointer gave the Tritons a 53-41 lead with 7:04 left in regulation. However, the Mountaineers scored the next 15 points of the game, shocking the Tritons by taking a 56-53 lead after a three-pointer by Western State with 32 seconds remaining. Senior guard Tyler Acevedo answered dramatically with a three-pointer off a pass from freshman forward Justin Brue, tying the game with 12 seconds left.

Despite the momentum from Acevedo’s final shot and two quick points in overtime from sophomore center Christian Hatch, UCSD once again fell behind.

Forward Dan Biber’s jumper keyed a 12-2 overtime run for the Mountaineers, giving the team a 69-60 advantage. Acevedo hit another three with 11 seconds left, but Western State College responded with two free throws to seal the win.

“We did a really good job getting to a point and just didn’t handle the pressure really well,” Carlson said. “We did a lot of good things in that game. Unfortunately, we didn’t take care of the ball.”

Acevedo finished with 13 points, landing three of six three-pointers. Ryan played a solid game, adding five points and 10 rebounds. Brue scored six points and collected rebounds, two blocks, a steal and an assist in 24 minutes of playing time. Freshman Jake Tarabilda also scored six points with three rebounds and two assists. As a team, the Tritons converted half of their three-point attempts, converted on 72.4 percent of their free-throw opportunities and out-rebounded the Mountaineers 52-37, but were undone by 17 turnovers — compared to only eight from Western State.

The Tritons look to get back on track on Dec. 4 as they head into CCAA play against a familiar foe: defending conference champion Cal State San Bernardino. UCSD lost by four points to the Coyotes in the second round of last season’s CCAA Tournament.

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