3,860 Proud

Erik Jepsen/Guardian

The Tritons were looking forward to playing on their home court after a difficult road trip the weekend before last.

John Hanacek/Guardian

They began a four-game home stand last week when they hosted Cal Poly Pomona on Jan. 28 and Cal State San Bernardino on Jan. 30. (The next two games will be Feb. 4 and Feb. 6). Pomona’s defense made the difference on Thursday, limiting the Tritons to just 49 points in a 59-49 victory.

Again on Saturday, as 3,860 fans packed into RIMAC Arena for Spirit Night, the Tritons couldn’t upset the Coyotes — now 13-4, 11-2 in California Collegiate Athletic Association play. A tight game ended in a nine-point deficit for UCSD, as Cal State San Bernardino won the game 76-67. The Tritons are now 4-12, 3-10 in CCAA.

“San Bernardino and Pomona are two of the best teams in our conference,” freshman guard Jake Tarabilda said. “We are bummed about the losses, because we were right there with both games, but if we play how we did this week, then we are definitely going to get some wins this second half of conference play.”

The Tritons couldn’t catch up to the Coyotes, despite senior guard Jordan Lawley’s career-high 32 points — topping a previous best of 31 points, set against San Francisco State on Jan. 16 — and a double-double by sophomore center Christian Hatch.

Lawley made eight of 16 shots from the floor, sinking three of four outside the arch. Twenty-four of his 32 shots came in the second half, and he tallied 22 of UCSD’s 25 points in the first.

Hatch converted four of seven shots, and his 12 rebounds were a career high — the second double-double of his career.

Less than a minute into the second half, the Tritons trailed the Coyotes 42-31, but — thanks to a huge offensive rebound by Hatch — they rallied to pull within a point to 67-68.

However, Hatch’s points were the Tritons’ last, and the Coyotes went on to secure the 76-67 win.

John Hanacek/Guardian

The Coyotes shot just under 45 percent in the game — hitting 26 of 58 from the field — while the Tritons sank 21 of 47. UCSD won the rebound battle 34-25, but yielded 18 Coyote points off turnovers.

“We gave a tremendous effort out there tonight,” head coach Chris Carlos said in an interview with the athletic department. “I thought the crowd was outstanding and full of energy, and we played really hard in the second half. We didn’t get the result we were after obviously, but the effort was there.”

On Thursday, freshman guard Jake Tarabilda scored a season-high 15 points to lead a tepid Triton offense against Cal Poly Pomona. The Broncos limited UCSD to shooting 33 percent.

Tarabilda and senior guard Tyler Acevedo hit two three-pointers apiece to help the Tritons build an early lead. Trailing 15-13 with nine minutes in the half, the Tritons answered with a 12-2 run over the next seven minutes, taking a 25-17 lead. Christian Hatch converted three free throws during the stretch, and Acevedo hit back-to-back triples to pad the lead.

Despite the Tritons’ late tear in the first half, Cal Poly Pomona imposed their game in the second half: The Broncos opened with a 22-9 run to take a 42-34 lead with six minutes remaining. The Tritons threatened a comeback by cutting to within six points, but the Broncos scored the next six to take their biggest lead of the game at 49-37, with one minute left. Cal Poly Pomona went on to seal a final score of 59-49.

UCSD hit five of seven three-pointers in the first half to take a 25-20 advantage into the second, but the Pomona defense — best in the CCAA — stepped it up, outscoring the Tritons 39-24 in the game’s final 20 minutes.

Tarabilda converted six of nine from the floor, three of which were triples. He also added four assists and two rebounds.

The Broncos entered the game with a league-low 54.4 points per game. They held the Tritons to just 49 points, their lowest output since scoring 46 points in a 22-point loss against Cal Poly Pomona on Dec. 5.

In spite of last week’s difficulties, Tarabilda said he was encouraged by the team’s progress.

“It was just some of the little things we didn’t do, and some things that didn’t go our way, or else we could have had two wins this week,” Tarabilda said. “As a team, we are definitely more confident, and have realized if we play like that every game — with high intensity and an emphasis on the defensive end — we’re going to start winning some games.”

UCSD will complete the four-game home stand against Cal State Dominguez Hills on Feb. 4 and Cal State Los Angeles on Feb. 6.

Readers can contact Cameron Tillisch at [email protected].

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