Men Earn First Win, Struggle for Rhythm

UCSD saw its 16-game win streak come to an end after a four-set defeat to San Francisco State on Nov. 6. The Tritons now stand at 26-season games left (John Hanacek/Guardian).

MEN’S BASKETBALL — After a difficult 0-4 start to this season, the UCSD men’s basketball picked up its game with two wins over winter break. On Dec. 22, the Tritons took their first league win of the season: a decisive 64-49 victory over San Diego Christian College at RIMAC Arena. However, they were subsequently humbled in the new year, falling 52-63 to Cal State Los Angeles on Jan. 2, then again 55-67 to Cal State Dominguez Hills on Jan. 3. UCSD now stands 2-6 overall and 1-4 in California Collegiate Athletic Association play.

Senior guard Jordan Lawley has anchored the Triton offense and tallied 20 points in UCSD’s home opener against San Diego Christian College, connecting on seven of his 14 from the field and five of six from the freethrow line. Sophomore center Christian Hatch lent seven points and seven rebounds, while freshman forward Justin Brue gave the Tritons a much-needed boost once he got off the bench — scoring six points and pulling down 11 rebounds.

UCSD put up a solid defense throughout the game, preventing SDCC from sneaking easy baskets and forcing them to shoot 31 percent from the field. The Hawks managed only eight field goals and a mere 28 percent of their attempted field goals in the first half. The Tritons took advantage of the Hawks’ slow start by sinking a stellar 40 percent of their shots, or 22 of 55 attempts.

After SDCC’s first five points, the Tritons went on a 12-point tear, taking a seven-point lead with 12 minutes left in the first half. Brue topped off the run with two jumpers, bringing the score to 12-7. The Tritons kept their foot on the pedal, accumulating a 28-13 advantage with less than four minutes left in the half. The team stormed into halftime with a 32-20 lead.

The Tritons started the second half where they left off, going on a 14-7 run to reach their greatest lead of the game, at 46-27. Though the Hawks rallied back with nine straight points pulling within 10 points of the Tritons — though they were unable to cut into their deficit further, and Lawley sealed the UCSD victory with six straight points.

Brue nailed a jump shot that gave the Tritons a 16-point lead, giving way to a a 64-49 victory.

Despite his team’s 20-point victory, Lawley said he felt “The game against SD Christian wasn’t our best performance, but it definitely reassured me that we are taking progressive steps. We did a lot of positive things on the offensive and defensive ends of the court, but I still feel like we need to make our big men more of a presence throughout the game.”

UCSD hit the road for more conference play as they took on Cal State Los Angeles on Jan. 2. Lawley scored 24 points — a team and game high — but his personal victory wasn’t enough to contain the Golden Eagles, who had won five of their last six games.

Lawley played fiercely, sinking six of 14 from the field and adding 10 of 13 free throws, along with four rebounds and three assists. After just six weeks of season play, he reached double figures in four straight games. Senior guard Tyler Acevedo added eight points to the score, while junior and freshman guards Casey Ryan and Jake Tarabilda collected an additional seven points apiece.

Chris Fields led the Golden Eagles with 18 points — 16 of which were scored in the first half of the game — and five rebounds.

With just 14 minutes left in the second half, Lawley sunk two free throws, pulling the Tritons within ten at 38-28. The Eagles responded by pushing their lead to 20 on a three-pointer with eight minutes left on the clock.

Over the following six minutes, the Tritons put together a 10-2 run to reach 45-55. But the late surge was not enough for the Tritons: CSULA held tight for the final two minutes to take the win at 62-53.

LA shot at 42 percent throughout the game, outscoring the Tritons 26-14 on free throws. Though the Eagles also won the battle of the boards — out-rebounding the Tritons 50-24 — UCSD has been the better rebounder among five of six of its last opponents.

Though the loss was disappointing after such a big win, Lawley said he likes what he has seen from his team in the recent weeks.

“Seeing our progress over the past few games and practices has made me extremely hopeful for the heart of league play,” Lawley said. “I look forward to getting ‘W’s in front of our Triton home crowd.”

The Tritons tried to right their ship in CCAA play on a trip to Carson, Calif., where they took on Cal State Dominguez Hills at the Torodome. However, their losing trend continued for a 55-67 fall. The Toros improved to 2-7 overall and 2-2 in CCAA play, while the Tritons fell to 2-6 overall and 1-4 in conference.

The game was knotted up at 39-38 with 14 minutes left in the second half, at which point Dominguez Hills took the lead and never looked back.

Lawley, the only Triton to reach double figures, sank five of his 13 shots from the field and 11 of 12 from the freethrow line. Christian Hatch added nine points to the cause, while Jake Tarabilda and Dylan Bohanan scored eight points apiece. The Toros outscored the Tritons 17-1 on second- chance points, which ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.

The Tritons look to turn their record around upon returning home to host Chico State and Cal State Stanislaus in next weekend’s conference games. Before that, UCSD will entertain the Wildcats in its CCAA home opener on Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m.

Readers can contact Cameron Tillisch at [email protected].

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