Tritons Snap Two Game Losing Streak Behind Bryce Pope’s Career Night

Last Tuesday, UC San Diego men’s basketball (2–4, 0–0 Big West) took on George Washington University (3–2, 0–0 Atlantic 10 Conference) in the nation’s capital just before the holiday weekend. The Tritons entered the contest looking to get back in the win column following an overtime loss to the U.S. Naval Academy and a blowout loss to Youngstown State University. The Colonials, on the other hand, had gotten off to quite a strong start this season and entered Tuesday’s game looking to attain a perfect 5–0 home record. 

The first half kicked off with some neck-and-neck play on the offensive end, with the Tritons leading 10–9 with 13:20 remaining in the half. UCSD then got into an offensive rhythm by stringing together a couple of made 3-point field goals from their freshman guard Roddie Anderson III and their redshirt junior forward Jake Kosakowski. The story of the night, however, was once again the play of redshirt junior guard Bryce Pope, who has played the role of the hero for the Tritons so far this season. 

Pope finished the first half with 15 points, including three 3-pointers, and was the spark the Tritons needed to rally behind to take a commanding lead in the first half. Two of Pope’s 3-pointers, along with a converted layup from Pope, ballooned the lead for the Tritons as they took control of the game with under two minutes left. With several forced turnovers and well-rounded team performance, the Tritons put together their best half of the season thus far, as they led by 16 and entered halftime up 41–25. 

In the second half, the Tritons picked up where they left off and maintained about the same fifteen-point advantage. Pope continued his efficient shooting from the field and was able to score an additional 16 points. UCSD also saw more scoring contributions from redshirt junior guard Jace Roquemore, senior forward J’Raan Brooks, and redshirt junior center Emmanuel Tshimanga. However, despite leading by 13 from a 3-pointer by Roquemore with 6:18 remaining on the clock, the Tritons found themselves in a brand new game down the stretch.

UCSD was unable to continue their strong first-half defense and began to put the Colonials on the free-throw line each time down the floor. The Triton perimeter attack stalled out a little toward the end, but they continued to score just enough to hold off GWU from taking the lead. The Colonials clawed back to cut their deficit down to 2 with 20 seconds remaining in the game. The Colonials displayed a valiant effort in crunch time, but the Tritons came away victorious as they were able to hold on until the end. Pope iced the game with two clutch free throws at the last second of regulation, leading his team to a 75–70 win and ultimately snapping a two-game losing streak. 

UCSD had a very efficient game shooting the ball, going 51.9% from the field and 47.1% from the three-point range. Pope was once again his team’s player of the game, finishing with an NBA 2K-like stat line of 31 points on 11–16 shooting and 3–5 from beyond the arc, while also being the only player on his team in double figures. The Colonials had three players in double figures, including James Bishop IV with 25 points, Brendan Adams with 20 points, and Maximus Edwards with 10 points. GWU’s biggest fault in the game was their three-point shooting, as the Triton perimeter defense forced them to shoot only 28% from the perimeter. Despite UCSD having a bad day from the free throw line, the Tritons were able to capitalize from the line in crunch time and match the Colonials in free throws made, going 11–21 while GWU went 11–15 from the line.

On Thursday, Dec. 1, the Tritons will be back in town as they take on their crosstown rivals, the University of San Diego, at 7 p.m.. 

Image Courtesy of Jeff Tourial of UCSD Athletics

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