CSUB Takes Sole Possession of CCAA Lead

    The lack of balloons and more than 1,000 screaming fans celebrating Spirit Night was not the only difference between the women’s basketball team’s games on Feb. 4 and the day before.

    Greg Dale/Guardian
    Freshman forward Michelle Osier gives CSULA’s Brittany Henderson the cold shoulder as she makes her way to the basket in the Tritons 80-62 victory over the Golden Eagles on Feb. 3.

    The Tritons dropped their latest matchup against No. 13 Cal State Bakersfield, just one night after increasing their win streak to 11-straight games against Cal State Los Angeles in front of a raucous crowd.

    The Roadrunners and the Tritons both came into the game with 10-1 league records and each team had a chance to take possession of the California Collegiate Athletics Association lead with a victory. However, it was Cal State Bakersfield that fought harder, overcoming the Tritons with a second-half comeback to win by a final score of 80-72.

    After the close loss, the team seemed like it had just experienced a tragedy. The Tritons were the only team to beat the Roadrunners this season and were expected to put up quite a fight against the No. 1 seed in the West Region.

    The loss marked an end to UCSD’s 11-game winning streak, but the Tritons put a positive spin on the loss.

    “It could be a good thing for us in the end,” freshman forward Michelle Osier said. “After so many wins we sort of lost the feeling of how bad it feels to loose. Hopefully the reminder will help push us harder against Chico State and even in the playoffs.”

    UCSD had a tender lead of 42-41 at intermission, but failed to deliver in the second half, making only 8-of-22 shots from the floor and allowing the Roadrunners to eventually outscore them for the eight-point victory.

    “We didn’t play too structured and that hurt us,” said junior guard Leora Juster, whose 16 points fell well below her season average. “We struggled with free throws, excessive dribbling and picking balls in traffic. Rebounding is what usually keeps us in the game but we just couldn’t take advantage of that like we’re used to. They were a good team who forced us out of our comfort zone and took advantage of our weaknesses, which we unfortunately showed a little too much of.”

    Osier also attributed some of the Tritons’ troubles to excessive fouls.

    “[The Roadrunners] really drove on people like me with foul trouble and there wasn’t much we could really do about that,” Osier said.

    While the team failed to come away with a win, a few players put up impressive individual efforts.

    Osier set a new career high with 21 points, in addition to 14 rebounds, three assists and two steals.

    “I just really tried to drill the lane when it was opened and kept the idea of a win in my mind,” Osier said. “I just wanted to contribute as much as I could to the team.”

    Sophomore center Briana Hinga also set some career highs with 16 points and 18 rebounds, to go along with four assists, three steals and five blocked shots.

    Despite her own good playing, Hinga expressed her frustration with the game as a whole.

    “Bakersfield played like we expected them to and really wanted to avenge their loss,” she said. “I was more frustrated by the fact that I think we didn’t do all we could. We definitely had our shot at it and could have beat them but it just didn’t go our way.”

    Before their win streak came to an end, the Tritons’ extended it to 11-straight with an 80-62 win over Cal State Los Angeles on Feb. 3.

    The game was important to the Tritons, who were looking to avenge their early season loss to the Golden Eagles on Dec. 3, their only league loss of the season at the time.

    “We were really fired up,” said Briana Hinga, who grabbed eight rebounds, dealt five assists and added four steals and five blocked shots. “We knew we needed to be physical and match their strength.”

    The game was a very aggressive one, with many bad falls and hard fouls, which showed the physical play both teams were willing to use for the win.

    The Tritons were ahead by 21 points at the half and started the second half with an 8-0 run for what became their largest lead in a game, at 51-22 with 18 minutes, 17 seconds left to play. The Golden Eagles tried to even out the score, chopping it down to 65-56 after a three-pointer by junior guard Amber Fouse.

    Hinga attributed Los Angeles’ near comeback to a “mid-second-half-bad lapse. But we came back to keep our lead.”

    Junior guard Kim Buffum, who made four three-pointers off the bench, was key to keeping the Tritons’ lead by responding to the Golden Eagles’ rally with a clutch basket outside the arc.

    UCSD kept at least a 12-point lead the rest of the way, thanks in part to Juster, who contributed 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the floor and a perfect 8-of-8 from the charity stripe, becoming the only player in UCSD history to score more than 30 points three times in a season.

    Aside from picking up on Cal State Los Angeles’ sloppy passing, the Tritons used clever defense to keep the Golden Eagle offense at bay.

    “Trap defense was pretty effective on them because of their susceptibility to steals,” Hinga said.

    The crowd was also a great help in intimidating the opponents.

    “We proved last time was just an off night,” Buffum said. “I absolutely loved tonight. The fans were with us in every play. They had great chants and we just fed off their energy so much … It really changes the atmosphere of the game.”

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