UCSD Eyes CCAA Title After Upset

    In its biggest game of the season so far, the No. 19 UCSD women’s basketball team proved its worth on a big stage by defeating No. 8 Chico State 80-63 on Feb. 3. The Tritons ended the Wildcats’ home winning streak and took over first place in the California Collegiate Athletic Association rankings with the win.

    Jason Campa/Guardian file
    Senior guard Leora Juster scored 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the Tritons’ upset win over No. 8 Chico State on Feb. 3, which moved them into first place in their league.

    For most of the first half in the nationally televised game, UCSD matched Chico State’s intensity and hung in range until the end of the first half with the score tied 32-32, when the Tritons streaked a 15-4 run to end the half. Senior guard Leora Juster contributed nine points to the UCSD run, and sophomore forward Michelle Osier added a three-point shot. The first-half success was crucial to the Tritons’ win against the potent Wildcat offense.

    “”We didn’t let them go on a run in the beginning so we got in a rhythm a lot earlier,”” Juster said.

    With aggressive rebounding, good shooting and effective defense, the Tritons were able to hold off the Wildcats in the second half of the game.

    A key to the win was the Tritons’ defense against the Wildcats’ Amber Simmons and Niki Simons, Osier said. The Tritons held Simmons to 13 points and Simons to a mere four points in the game. UCSD shot 45 percent from the field compared to Chico State’s 31 percent.

    “”We played extremely well on both ends of the ball,”” head coach Janell Jones said. “”We shot well, played good defense and we mixed up our defenses.””

    Juster and Osier were standouts once again – Juster had a game-high 32 points and eight rebounds, while Osier notched a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Senior forward Hillary Hansen added 12 points and seven rebounds.

    The Tritons not only ended Chico State’s 28-game home winning streak, but they also took over first place in the CCAA rankings with a conference record of 11-2.

    “”The win really motivated us,”” Osier said. “”It puts us in first place and Chico in second. It affects the regional rankings, and it affects who hosts the tournament.””

    Before playing Chico State, UCSD played Cal State Stanislaus on Feb. 1, winning by a score of 76-48. In that game, Juster scored 22 points and Osier added 17 to help secure the win for the Tritons.

    UCSD returns home for a match against Cal State Dominguez Hills on Feb. 6, Sonoma State on Feb. 9 and Humboldt State on Feb. 10. The Tritons play seven of their nine final regular season games on their home court.

    “”[The win against Chico State] is just another win right now,”” Jones said. “”We’ve got a test coming up. We have three games at home against a tough division. We just need to focus and can’t celebrate.””

    Still, the Tritons have high aspirations for the rest of the season, and they hope that their win against Chico State can motivate them to win the rest of their games.

    “”The plan is to win the rest of our conference games, host regionals and win our regional tournament,”” freshman guard Cecily Conner said. “”We’re keeping our eye on the prize, which is regionals.””

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