By Zach Slagle
Western forward Deandre Dickson’s foul after a hard screen on Tritons’ defender Christian Oshita created an altercation, forcing both teams to be separated just minutes into the game, setting the tone for a foul-filled slugfest.
Western men’s basketball fell to 2-2 on the season after an 81-73 loss to UC San Diego, Friday, Nov. 24, in a physical matchup featuring 47 fouls.
The Vikings capitalized on San Diego’s foul trouble, making 23 of 25 free throws as a team, but struggled slowing the Tritons offense.
Western’s previous 2-1 record was produced largely by their defense. The Vikings averaged 7.7 blocks per game and held opponents to shoot 36 percent from the field. Against the Tritons, Western only had four blocks and allowed San Diego to shoot 54 percent from the field.
“We were a step slow,” Junior forward Siaan Rojas said. “I think we could have been faster. It’s tough when all those threes are dropping. It was just their night shooting-wise.”
Before Friday’s win, San Diego averaged 67 points per game on 44 percent shooting and 35 percent from 3-point land.
Against Western, the Tritons shot 52 percent from beyond the arc, connecting on ten 3-pointers. Tritons’ forward Christian Oshita had the hot hand early, making all six of his shots in the first half. Oshita led the way for San Diego with 22 points for the game.
To throw the Tritons offense off-kilter, Western coach Tony Dominguez incorporated a 2-3 zone defense. This involved the team covering a space on the floor instead of focusing on their matchup, using guards and wings to defend the perimeter and the opposing team’s big men to clog the paint.
“In theory we maybe should have played more zone,” Dominguez said. “But they were shooting lights out, hitting every open shot they had.”
The Vikings were unable to play with the usual pace because of fouls, turnovers and poor shooting. Western averaged 90 points per game before playing San Diego, which ranked third in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
Sophomore forward Trevor Jasinski finished with nine points.
“We love to fastbreak,” Jasinski said. “When the ball’s always dead, it’s tough to run. We know we’re a talented offensive team, we just need to catch a rhythm.”
While averaging 18.7 assists per game, the Vikings were used to finding the open man for easy shots. Coming into the game, Western shot 51 percent as a team. The Tritons’ defense held the Vikings to shoot under 40 percent.
“We definitely could have moved the ball more,” Jasinski said.
Dominguez tried different rotations to spark a comeback involving multiple guards for more fluidity on offense.
“We’re normally scoring a lot of points, and for some reason, the bigger lineup wasn’t clicking,” Dominguez said. “I felt like we needed to change something up.”
Western blew out Capilano, 113-60, on Nov. 25, to improve to 3-2 on the season. The Vikings face Concordia on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m., at home.