The Tritons broke even this weekend, with two more wins on the road.
UCSD beat Cal State Dominguez Hills 69–62 last Friday, Feb. 1 and took another win against Cal State Los Angeles the following day.
On Friday, five different Tritons finished in double digits to take a well-deserved win. Junior point guard James McCann finished with 16 points, while sophomore forward Colin Porter recorded a double-double.
Porter, filling a hole in the starting lineup since senior forward Justin Brue has been out with an injury, picked up 12 points and nabbed 10 rebounds. But in his third game back, Brue came up big, scoring 15 points on top of two blocks.
“Porter has been working really hard for the past four seasons, and he played great in both games last weekend,” senior guard Tyler McGrath said. “Without him, I don’t see us winning either of those games.”
Down by two points at the beginning of the half, UCSD went on a 9–0 run to start the second half and cement the win.
On Saturday, UCSD upset Cal State Los Angeles, beating the fourth-ranked team 50–34 — the Golden Eagles’ lowest conference output of the season. The Triton zone limited Cal State Los Angeles’ top-scorer James Tillman to just five points — 10.5 points below his season average.
“We had a fantastic collective effort this evening,” UCSD head coach Chris Carlson said to the UCSD Athletics Department. “Our group did a marvelous job in the zone and making adjustments all night.”
In the same way that Porter came up big against the Toros, freshman guard Hunter Walker had a big night against the Golden Eagles.
Walker scored 14 points, going 3-for-5 from the three-point line. McGrath — UCSD’s top scorer — finished with 12 points and three rebounds, while in the paint, Porter picked up eight points along with nine rebounds.
“[Cal State Los Angeles] has a lot of talent inside. And so what we tried to do was play man on the miss and zone on the make,” McGrath said. “It was really a defensive battle, and it was a good call by the coaches to switch up the defense. Porter played great defense, and held the second-best shot-blocker in the nation to under his season average. And Hunter coming off the bench and giving us that spark just really gave us what we needed to get the win.”
Of the 12-team conference, the Tritons are currently tied for fourth place, with a 7–7 CCAA record. UCSD is tied with Chico State and Cal State Los Angeles, although with both teams performing poorly as of late, the Tritons may have a chance to piggyback their way up through the standings, particularly with the schedule they’ve been dealt to end the season.
“The younger guys have started to figure things out, and they’ve really started to step up,” McGrath said. “But sometimes things just take time. We’re peaking late, and we all kind of felt it going into the season when we were losing the close games. It’s hard to point to any one thing that we’ve done to get the results that we have, other than being focused, coming to work every day and listening to the coaches.”
The Tritons will play six of their last eight games at home.
This Friday, UCSD will host Humboldt State at 7:30 p.m. for Spirit Night. The following day, UCSD will face No. 4 nationally ranked Cal Poly Pomona (13–1 in CCAA, 17–1 overall).
“We’re really looking forward to coming home, and we’ll really need the crowd to be loud for us on Friday,” McGrath said. “Humboldt’s a good team and we’ll need the help.”