Tritons roll to 29-point victory in Irvine

    The UCSD women’s basketball team seemed to be riding a rollercoaster Thanksgiving weekend at the Concordia University Invitational in Irvine, Calif., with many dips and turns along the way. On Nov. 25, it suffered a close 61-60 loss against South Dakota University but bounced back on day two, beating the Concordia Eagles 65-36.

    The loss to the Coyotes was due in part to a shooting stall in the second half, when the Tritons made only 7-of-33 shots and were outscored 29-25.

    Junior Leora Juster had a tough time getting the ball to fall.

    “It was just one of those games,” she said. “Just a goofy thing where I was struggling with shooting but Concordia, for some reason, was opening up better.”

    Juster completely turned it around the following night against the host Eagles, as she pounded in 9-of-14 shots for a game high of 25 points with six rebounds, five assists and five steals. Juster’s strong performance propelled the Tritons to a 65-36 victory.

    Freshman Meghan Noud linked the Nov. 25 loss to problems with grabbing rebounds.

    “We will improve on that no doubt,” Noud said. “The game could have gone either way but we fought hard in the end and that tells you a lot about our team.”

    All the Triton players seemed to be on their A-game on Nov. 26. Aside from Juster’s performance, sophomore point guard Alexis Mezetta upped her career high from Nov. 25’s 11 points to 13 on Nov. 26, along with five rebounds and four assists. Noud contributed by netting 10 points in 16 minutes of play. After possessing a mere seven-point lead at the half, the Tritons outscored Concordia by a margin of 38 to 16 in the second half, to finish with a 29-point advantage.

    Some players attribute the win to preparation and the dedication put forth by the Triton coaches.

    Team captain Kim Buffum said that “practices are much longer this year and on a tight schedule. “

    “We do drill after drill with no breaks much like we do in a game, and that really helps,” she said. “The coaches are very involved and good at correcting in each play. It’s great to have that one-on-one instruction every day.”

    Juster agrees that tough practices have helped the team in games.

    “Coach [Janell] Jones keeps it at a very intense level and we try to feed off that intensity in the game,” Juster said. “When we don’t, we pay for it. We hate to let her down.”

    She added that the team’s improvement is apparent because the players are getting more comfortable at their positions.

    For these team members, sweating together has also brought them closer together. With eight new players and many seniors gone, team chemistry remained an uncertainty at the beginning of the season.

    “It’s definitely a whole new feeling this year, but we’re all very supportive and much more open with each other than I’ve seen in the past,” Juster said. “There are also a lot of characters on the team, which brings loads of laughter.”

    Furthermore, the close bond the players share may be the key to their interaction on the court.

    “It’s been a pretty smooth transition and our closeness is what sets us apart from other teams,” Buffum said. “We are all pulling for each other. You can see it when our faces light up when one of our teammates scores.”

    While the support system is strong in the team, Buffum feels the fan base has been lacking.

    “There were only like 15 fans in the stands at the last home game so we really need to get more people involved because a good set of fans truly adds to the game,” she said. “Hopefully UCSD supporters can step it up some as well.”

    The next opportunity comes on Nov. 30 in RIMAC Arena when the Tritons will go head-to-head against Alaska Fairbanks University. In early December, the team will take on two of the top teams in the conference, Cal State Bakersfield and Cal State Los Angeles.

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