TURLOCK — Larry Reynolds became a reluctant prophet this weekend.
Following Friday night’s two-point loss to Cal State San Bernardino, the CSU Stanislaus coach said “I hope we didn’t expend too much energy in this gym tonight.”
Lack of focus and, yes, energy clearly was a factor on Saturday night, as was the clutch play of UC San Diego, which held off the Warriors’ late charge to grab a 67-65 victory at Fitzpatrick Arena.
As was the case on Friday, Stanislaus had the ball with a chance to tie the game with a two-pointer after trailing by double digits in the final eight minutes.
Chris Read got inside for a basket with 9.5 seconds remaining to pull the Warriors within two points, then Clinton Tremelling drew an offensive foul as the Tritons were attempting to inbound the ball.
The Warriors tried to go inside to Marcus Bell, but San Diego collapsed on the Stanislaus big man. Tremelling tried to drive to the hoop from the top of the key, but was whistled for a charge with 1.6 seconds remaining.
This time, the Tritons were able to get the ball inbounds, and then celebrated a huge weekend for them that started with a win at Chico State on Friday.
The Warriors’ lost weekend muddles what was a clear path to a berth in the California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament. They’re 13-7 overall and 9-7 in the CCAA, which is good for a three-way tie for fourth with Cal State Los Angeles and San Francisco State.
San Diego, which started the weekend with little more than a long shot at reaching the top six, is 12-8 overall and 8-8 in conference play – in seventh place, only one game out of the conference tourney – with six games remaining.
“You can’t lose home games and we just lost two tough ones,” Reynolds said after the more recent setback. “After a big homecoming game last night the team was mostly down and San Diego is playing well right now.”
But it wasn’t only a mental letdown. Clearly, the Warriors didn’t have their legs for the second game of the California Collegiate Athletic Association weekend, and you don’t have to look beyond the team’s shooting for proof.
The Warriors hit only four of 12 shots from 3-point range, missing their last six after Tremelling opened the second half with a shot from behind the arc. They needed to be able to hit shots from distance down the stretch, and simply couldn’t get into position to let them fly.
“A lot of that was legs,” Reynolds said. “The guys just didn’t feel they could get a shot off and they did a tremendous job of getting out on shooters and laying off the guys they believe couldn’t shoot.”
With no outside game, the Warriors had no choice but to go inside to Bell. He finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds, but for most of the second half was Stanislaus’ lone offensive option. He also missed seven of 14 free threw attempts in the second half.
“I thought Marcus played a good game and he had his motor going out there,” Reynolds said. “He was trying to will us to win, but we have to shoot better free throws as a team, especially in close games. Those are points you can’t give up.”
Chris Read added 16 points and 10 rebounds, with a lot of his offense coming after offensive rebounds. Tremelling and Alek Carlson had eight points apiece to account for nearly all of the perimeter scoring.
Stanislaus now goes on the road for consecutive weekends, playing at Dominguez Hills and Los Angeles next weekend, then going to East Bay and Monterey Bay before returning home the last day of February.
Of the four teams the Warriors will play on the road, only Los Angeles is in the current playoff picture.
“In the CCAA you have to play back-to-back nights and it’s not easy,” Reynolds said. “You think you’re better when you’re home but you can’t rely on just being home to get your victory.
“Now we’re back to being road Warriors.”