Two legends of the deep sea surfaced to duel when the Seawolves squared off against the UC San Diego Tritons
The RIMAC arena in La Jolla was buzzing in favor of the home team, who holds the No. 2 spot in CCAA standings. Unfortunately for them, the underdogs came to win, challenging San Diego with every possession and eventually securing the late 64-62 victory.
After a grueling loss to Cal State San Bernardino the night before, the Seawolves recouped and came prepared for their final game of the season.
Less than two minutes into the first half, James Slade drained the first 3-pointer of the night off of a slick assist from James Davis.
Senior guard David Ahern reinforced the 6-0 start with another trey, setting the pace for what would soon become one of the most crucial wins of the season.
The Seawolves played well on both ends of the court, denying the Tritons’ first six attempts to get on the board.
UC San Diego, scoreless for almost five minutes of the game, redeemed their slow start and eventually gained their first lead of the night with 11:23 left in the half.
Although the Tritons maintained the advantage for the remainder of the first half, the Seawolves kept the game close, trailing 31-26 at halftime.
It only took Slade 18 seconds to sink a layup at the start of the second half, dropping San Diego’s lead to just three points. However, the Tritons, defending their 20-5 overall record, exploded with an 11-2 run against Sonoma.
Down by 12 (47-35) with 12:03 remaining in the game, the tides began to turn for the Seawolves when Ronnie Harris sunk a field goal from beyond the arc, ending the Triton run while chipping away at their lead.
“I went in with the second unit and our job was to put pressure on UCSD by picking up full court on defense,” said Harris. “At that point of the game we were able to find a rhythm on the offensive end, which ignited the team’s energy.”
The starters checked in at the 10 minute mark, dominating the floor to close the double-digit deficit to 2 points in just five minutes of play. With 1:49 left, Ahern sunk his second 3-pointer of the game to give the Seawolves the 1-point advantage. The Tritons put up one final layup to defend their home court, but Luke Cochran pushed back, scoring the field goal that ultimately changed the fate of the match.
Sonoma State gained the final lead of the night and pulled away with a 2-point victory.
In this weekend’s clash of the Tritons, Sonoma State fought to safely secure the No. 7 seed in the upcoming CCAA Tournament.
“Going into the game everyone wanted to prove that we can compete with one of the best teams in the league,” said Slade after his impressive 13-point game on Saturday. “We need to come out with the same intensity that we started the game with. We need to play our tempo and make sure we do the little things right. We proved that we can hang with these guys, we just need to come out and play like we can play.”
The Seawolves will return to the RIMAC to challenge the No. 2 seed Tritons once again in the opening round of the conference championship tournament.
“Coach Fuscaldo keeps emphasizing, ‘Confident and calm,’ so we’re striving to keep that in mind,” said Harris. “We’re going to approach Tuesday’s game knowing that it can be our last, so we’re going to give all our heart.”
Today’s game will determine which team will advance to the semifinals in Stockton on Friday.