Despite a sluggish offensive output, the UC San Diego men’s basketball team held on for a 50-46 victory against league rival Sonoma State Saturday night at The Wolves’ Den.
UCSD is now 13-9 overall and 11-7 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA).
With four regular season games remaining, the Tritons are locked in a four-way tie for third place with Cal State San Bernardino, Cal State Stanislaus and Humboldt State. Cal Poly Pomona and Chico State are tied for first (14-4), while Cal State Monterey Bay and Sonoma State are tied for seventh (8-10). The top six finishers qualify for the league tournament.
UCSD made just four of its 18 shots in the first half, 22.2 percent, but led by a score of 18-17 at the break. For the game, the Tritons were out-shot, 43.2 percent to 35.7 percent. The 50 points were the third-fewest scored by UC San Diego this season.
The Triton defense stepped up however, forcing 11 turnovers, 10 of those coming off of steals. UCSD turned the SSU miscues into 13 points. Only once this season have the Tritons posted a higher steal total (12).
“We weren’t at our best, but we found a way to win,” said UCSD head coachEric Olen. “We didn’t shoot the ball the way we normally do, but we defended well and gave ourselves an opportunity. The guys stepped up and made winning plays down the stretch.”
The lead changed hands several times in the second half. With the Seawolves leading by two, 41-39, with just 1:19 left in the game, Grant Jackson nailed a three-pointer to put the Tritons up for good. Five free throws in the last 10 seconds stretched the UCSD lead to six, 50-44, before Khalid Johnson made a layup for the Seawolves to account for the final score.
Two Tritons finished with 10 or more points, including Adam Klie, who recorded a game-high 11 to go along with a team-best seven rebounds. The sophomore guard also had two assists and two steals.
Hunter Walker had 10 points, four boards, an assist and two steals, while Jeff Van Dyke (Carlsbad/San Dieguito Academy) had three steals.
The Seawolves got 10 points from Mike Harris. Andy Mitchell and Nathan Molony-Benjamin each totaled eight rebounds.
SSU dropped to 11-11 overall on the year with the loss.
UC San Diego swept the regular season series as it defeated Sonoma State, 63-57, back on Jan. 9 in La Jolla.
UCSD hosts its final home games of the season next week as it takes on Cal State Dominguez Hills on Feb. 20 and Cal State L.A. on Feb. 21. Both games are slated for a 7:30 p.m. tip at RIMAC Arena.
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