The UCSD men’s basketball team split its last two road contests last weekend, Jan. 25 and Jan. 26. The Tritons conceded a big loss to San Francisco State (55–70) on Friday before blowing out Sonoma State 85–65. UCSD senior shooter Tyler McGrath was named the CCAA Player of the Week for his performance over the weekend. The shooter averaged 23.5 points between the two games, draining nine three-pointers over the weekend, going 52 percent from the field.
“On Saturday, everything just clicked for us, and everyone was making shots. I knew going in that I had to be really aggressive and really get things going in the attack,” McGrath said.
UCSD’s 20-point win over Sonoma State marked the Tritons’ biggest scoring margin this season. McGrath led the attack, scoring a season-high 32 points, going 6-for-9 from behind the three-point line. McGrath’s partner in the backcourt, junior guard James McCann, also finished with a career-high nine assists on top of 12 points.
“We had a really good week of practice in preparation for last weekend, our coaches really got us working on what we needed,” McGrath said. “And on Saturday, everything was just clicking. We made good use of our pick-and-roll opportunities and took advantage of the looks that we got.”
Unfortunately, on Friday, the Tritons did not get the same output from the backcourt — not a good sign for a team whose most experienced big has been out of commission for the past few games.
Again, McGrath led the Tritons with 15 points, while McCann and freshman Drew Dyer were held to just seven apiece. The big surprise came from freshman guard Hunter Walker. The newcomer, who has seen very little time on the court leading up to Friday night, posted a career-high 13 points in his 17 minutes.
“We got some good looks, and got some good sets, but our shots just weren’t falling,” McGrath said.
And it’s when the shots aren’t falling that UCSD finds itself in trouble. It’s no secret that the Tritons struggle on the block, especially now, with senior forward Justin Brue out from the rotation and his replacement Dyer, is more of an outside shooter than a presence in the paint. But midway into the season, McGrath says the Tritons (5–7 in the CCAA) are steadily climbing up through the conference rankings and seem to have worked out most of the problems that come with having a young team.
“We had a lot of younger guys playing big minutes early on,” McGrath said. “It takes a handful of games to get players competing and not reacting, and I think our new guys are getting to that stage.”
The Tritons have two more away games that will round out their six-game road series. UCSD will face CCAA south division rivals Cal State Dominguez Hills this Friday, Feb. 1 and Cal State Los Angeles the following day.
The Tritons return home the following week, when it will host Humboldt State next Friday, Feb. 8 for Spirit Day.