“I think our group is resilient, and we’ve shown that already, and we’ve got to bounce back,” UCSD head coach Chris Carlson said to the UCSD Athletics Department. “Part of that is being a student of the game, which we’ve been and taking the time to learn and grow and execute in practice. It’s really core, fundamental things that we need to get back to.”
In front of almost 1,800 spectators, the Tritons clinched a 67–62 win over defending CCAA champions Chico State on the backs of the UCSD backcourt. Senior shooter Tyler McGrath finished with 24 points on top of a season-high 10 rebounds, while junior point guard James McCann recorded 21 points.
“[McGrath] takes responsibility for the game, and that’s what you want your upperclassmen to do,” Carlson said.
But not only was the perimeter producing — the Tritons were also getting good minutes on the block. UCSD held a solid, if not rare, 30–18 scoring advantage in the paint even with the absence of senior staple Justin Brue. Carlson gave the go-ahead to senior forward Colin Porter to step in for Brue, who came up big with eight rebounds.
The following night, the Tritons conceded a frustrating loss to Cal State Stanislaus, after squandering a 10-point lead at the half.
“We did a lot of good things in the first half to get us the lead,” Carlson said. “And a lot of the things that we did to get us that lead weren’t there in the second half, and you have to credit Stanislaus, they’re a good team. They’re very well-coached and they execute very well, and they’re very efficient, and when they get like that they’re just tough to beat.”
The silver lining may be the further development of redshirt sophomore forward Brandon Blanchard, who recorded a career-high 19 points against Stanislaus. The sophomore has had an unfortunate run-in with injuries that have largely kept him off the court in his past three seasons, but this breakout performance may bode well for the Tritons, who are thin at the post position.
“Everyone in the program has a lot of belief in Brandon [Blanchard]. This is a mere snippet of what he’s capable of. He’s been battling injuries since he’s been here, and there have been moments when his shot hasn’t been falling, and we’re gonna need him going forward.”
UCSD improves to 2–6 in the CCAA, moving up to 11th in the 12-team conference. The Tritons will now look forward to a six-game road trip, which begins this Friday, Jan. 18 against Cal State Monterey Bay.