Fok Brings UCSD Back From the Brink

    Last Friday at the Golden Gymnasium in Point Loma, the Triton women’s basketball team outshined the Crusaders of Point Loma Nazarene University with a thrilling last-second 58-56 victory.

    David Pilz/

    The UCSD women capped off an exciting first game in NCAA Division II with a baseline jumper by junior Maya Fok with 0.8 seconds left.

    “”[The game] was a war,”” commented head coach Judy Malone. “”It was almost the same game as last year.””

    With this victory, the Tritons added another chapter in their history with Point Loma. UCSD has been closely matched against the Crusaders, including a 78-74 victory last year, until Friday’s victory gave them the 4-3 edge in the overall series.

    The women’s team began the game strong and cruised to a 35-24 halftime lead, despite the height advantage the Crusaders possessed.

    “”I think being as young as we are, we showed a lot of confidence and strength,”” said senior Genevieve Ruvald, the Tritons’ leading scorer against Point Loma, with 17 points.

    The Tritons displayed their tenacity by battling for every rebound and loose ball, which gave them a 32-22 shots-taken advantage in the first half.

    The second half was another story, however, as Point Loma came out with all pistons firing. Corey Zimbelman, who led all scorers with 18 points, opened the half with a three-pointer, and it was downhill for UCSD from there.

    After a few minutes of anemic offense, the Tritons called a timeout and proceeded to give the Crusaders an uncontested basket due to UCSD’s tardiness in getting back onto the court after the timeout. However, the Tritons were kept in the game by their gritty defense and several big offensive plays, which included Ruvald scoring off a steal, Fok penetrating inside to get to the line, and a nice drive to the hoop by freshman Kimberly Hong.

    Despite its offensive efforts, Point Loma crept to within 2 points eight minutes into the second half.

    Neither team was helped by the referees, who blew their whistles so frequently and enthusiastically that their faces started to turn blue due to lack of oxygen.

    Due to the frequency of the refs stopping the game, the teams were unable to establish a rhythm offensively. All in all, they called a total of 37 fouls and numerous traveling violations.

    “”There were some questionable calls,”” Ruvald said.. “”However we can’t blame the game on the officials,”” she added.

    The crowd, which grew louder as the game progressed, also appeared to affect the young Triton team. The UCSD women seemed to have trouble at the free-throw line in the second half, with the raucous Point Loma throng drowning out the few loyal UCSD fans.

    With the second half winding down, the Tritons’ rawness was visible during one offensive series in which freshman Ali Ginn was passed the ball while she was attempting to tie her hair back, though no harm resulted as she nonchalantly caught the ball and flipped it back with one hand.

    “”We have a lot of young kids,”” Malone said. “”We still have some growth to do.””

    “”I thought our young players really stepped up and kept their poise,”” Ruvald praised.

    With less than two minutes left in the game, Point Loma pulled to within one when freshman Tammy McCoy scored on a breakaway to make the score 50-51.

    With 32.7 seconds left and a one-point lead, Ruvald drew a foul and coolly sank both free throws to stretch UCSD’s lead to three. However, in the next possession, Zimbelman ignited the Crusader crowd by burying a three-pointer to tie the game with 23.2 seconds left.

    In the end, Zibelman’s heroics were for naught, as Fok found herself wide open on the right wing and calmly stepped up and nailed the game winner.

    The UCSD women, seeking to improve upon last year’s stellar 20-6 record, will next square off against Christian Heritage on Thursday, Nov. 30.

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