Photo Courtesy of Ellie Wang/UCSD Guardian
The No. 4 UC San Diego Tritons men’s basketball team came out of the gate ready to go against the California State University, San Marcos Cougars this past Friday. With three different starters connecting from long range and redshirt senior center Chris Hansen’s menacing play inside the paint, the Tritons built a 32–13 lead early on. Redshirt junior guard Mikey Howell, a San Marcos native, facilitated the Tritons’ offense in the first half, notching 5 assists and constantly finding teammates for easy buckets. The second half was a lot of the same for the Tritons as they won the game 81–54, pushing the team’s record to 5–0 on the year.
After a late surge by the Cougars to end the first half that cut the lead to just nine points, UCSD head Coach Eric Olen urged his team to clean up their defense by trying to “contain their penetration” to the rim. He also noted that the Cougars scored 22 of their 25 first-half points in the paint and that “controlling the ball would make it harder for them to score.”
Starting the second half, the Tritons came out of the locker room with much more assertiveness and energy on both sides of the ball. And just as Olen called for, the Cougars were limited to just 12 points in the paint and a 39-percent field goal percentage in the second half. Hansen tallied a game-high 17 points and added 8 boards, while redshirt sophomore guard Tyrell Roberts also contributed 13 points and 2 steals, including a 3–7 line from three-point range.
With a perfect start to the season so far, Olen said that going forward, execution and consistency are still some little things where this Tritons team can improve upon. Since the Tritons have a bunch of talent, Olen said sometimes they can “get away with not having perfect execution because they make a tough shot or make a play for each other.”
UCSD will look to improve upon these details when they travel up to California State University, San Bernardino to take on the 3–3 Coyotes this Sunday to kick off their three-game road trip.