Men’s basketball was dusted in the shootout by UC San Diego, as they lost 87-65 at The Swamp on Saturday, Feb. 23, Senior Day for the basketball program.
The Gators’ Senior Day ceremony preceded the action, where Gator guards Niquis Garland, Jiday and Chiefy Ugbaja, forward Matthew Arrivas and center Ryne Williams were honored before playing their last regular season game as a member of SF State.
“I love being in this program, I love being a part of this university,” Williams said. “It’s been a great run, it’s been a great five years.”
SF State opened the game playing up-tempo for their first few possessions, getting the ball down to the Triton’s side of the court without setting up their half-court sets. The offense was too fast for its own good and gave UC San Diego an early chance at defensive rebounds and scoring off of turnovers.
The Tritons returned the favor with their own fast-paced offense. They made their shots and were heating up early. UC San Diego jumped out to an early 7-2 lead within the first two and a half minutes.
“Their fast break was fueled off our turnovers,” Williams said. “We had seven turnovers in the half and they scored 12 points off that. That’s a big margin, and we were down nine at the half.”
For a moment, the Gators found their groove, getting good shots, along with some good defense.
It wouldn’t last.
One of the only team stats the Gators could win against the Tritons was rebounding.
SF State almost doubled the Tritons in cleaning the glass during the first half, snatching 22 balls to the Tritons’ 14. The defensive rebounding, 13 rebounds, saved the Gators from even more Triton onslaught in the first half, who already built a 38-29 lead by the end of the half.
Defensive rebounding could not stop UC San Diego’s flurry of three-pointers, which kept the half out of reach for SF State.
The Tritons were 6-of-16 from deep and despite the poor shooting from three-point land, seemed to answer every Gator comeback with a three on their way to a comfortable first-half lead.
The story of the game was much of the same in the second half, as UC San Diego continued to separate themselves from the Gators with a three-pointer. The Tritons shot 12-for-30 (40 percent) from behind the arc on the day.
No player had a better game than Tritons senior guard Christian Bayne, who had 31 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the field. Bayne went 3-of-6 from behind the three-point line.
“It was, especially, Christian Bayne’s day,” said Arrivas. “He was really going crazy today, making a lot of shots, really tough ones.”
The team was not communicating well today, Arrivas said. Bayne and rest of Tritons took advantage of it today.
UC San Diego’s offensive explosion led to a lead by as much as 23 points. The Gators simply could not keep up with the Tritons volume scoring.
“They’re [UC San Diego] the best shooting team in the league,” SF State head coach Vince Inglima said. “They shoot over 40 percent as a team. So we knew it was going to be an issue from the get-go.”
The Gators dropped a one-point battle when they faced the Tritons last time on Thursday, Dec. 6. That 80-79 loss was a far cry from the game on Saturday.
“We tried to switch defenses … to keep them off balance, which we had a lot of success with last time,” Inglima said. “In the end, tonight they were making shots.”
Even with this blemish, SF State has had a solid February, going 4-2 so far, with a game against Chico State left on the month.
The Gators will travel to Art Ackerman Gymnasium this Thursday, Feb. 28 to take on the Chico State Wildcats, hoping to cling onto the fourth seed in the CCAA and host a first-round playoff matchup on Tuesday, March 5.