The Tritons fell 90–82 in their CCAA season opener against a strong CSU San Bernardino squad, picked to finish third by the annual conference coaches’ poll.
“Overall it was a good game for us,” McCann said. “We had an early lead, and then we kind of let them get back into things. But I think the biggest thing for us right now is working on our defense, because the offense is there.”
UCSD went into the second half with a 34–31 lead, which it extended to 33–40 through the combined efforts of Brue and McCann. From there, the Coyotes went on an 11–4 run to tie the game, while shooting guard Amari Simons’ three consecutive three-pointers gave San Bernardino a healthy eight-point lead, which UCSD was unable to chip away at.
Brue, a four-year starter for UCSD, seems to have taken the reigns for graduated center Christian Hatch on the block. The senior has led the Tritons on the boards in three of its four season matchups. He also leads the squad with 23 rebounds.
On the road Saturday night, Brue led UCSD with 24 points, going 12-for-16 from the field, while also nabbing nine rebounds. McCann finished with a career-high 21 points and seven rebounds.
“[Brue] was really hot in the first half,” McCann said. “He was getting inside, hitting his jumpers. He was strong on the boards, and I think that that’s going to be kind of a normal thing for him throughout the season.”
Despite standout games from both McCann and Brue — supplemented by double-digit productions from senior shooting guard Tyler McGrath and sophomore forward Brandon Blanchard — the Tritons had startlingly little coming from the bench. Outside of those four, the remaining six players totaled only 11 points.
“The biggest thing is being able to defend better,” McCann said. “They would penetrate and kick, and we weren’t getting out there to defend the shot. [CSU San Bernardino] has a ton of shooters on the perimeter, and we just need to be better and take a little more pride in our individual defense.”
UCSD will return home this week to kick off a four-game homestand. The Tritons will take on CCAA opponent CSU Los Angeles this Friday, Nov. 30, followed by a game against CSU Dominguez Hills on Saturday.
“Both of these teams are always at the top of our league, and we’re really looking forward to playing against them,” McCann said. “It’ll be really important for us to try and get two wins in at home.”