Tritons Split in Home Action

The No. 14 UCSD women’s basketball team had its eight-game winning streak snapped last weekend. Held scoreless for the first 10 minutes of the game, the Tritons suffered a 69-58 loss on Feb. 16 to a Cal State Bakersfield team that currently sits atop the California Collegiate Athletic Association standings. UCSD fought back the next night with a convincing 86-47 win over Cal State Los Angeles to earn a split at home.

Will Parson/Guardian
Sophomore forward Michelle Osier contributed 16 points and 12 rebounds in the No. 14 Tritons’ 86-47 blowout win over the Cal State Los Angeles Golden Eagles on Feb. 17.

Playing with only six players due to attitude problems, a coaching change and issues with player ineligibility, Cal State Los Angeles was no match for a strong UCSD team looking to get back on the winning track. The Tritons jumped out to a 13-2 lead to start the game, with senior guard Leora Juster and sophomore forward Michelle Osier trading baskets on the offensive side for the Tritons.

The Tritons kept a sizeable lead for the entire first half, receiving contributions off the bench from junior forwards Alexis Mezzetta and Meaghan Noud. By the end of the first half, the Tritons had opened up a comfortable 46-25 lead.

In the second half of the game, some of the less-experienced players showed that one of the strongest parts of this UCSD team is its bench. Junior guard Marla Mason took over at point guard for much of the second half, moving the ball well and creating scoring opportunities for the Tritons. Junior center Diahnn Futalan added four points in seven minutes, and freshman guard Laura Moore played six quality minutes at point guard.

“”It is obvious that we have players on the bench that are strong and continue to grow,”” junior center Jillian Ricks said. “”This is big not only for the playoffs this year, but also for next year’s team.””

For a few minutes in the second half, UCSD was playing with none of its starters on the court. However, the Tritons were still able to sustain the lead over Cal State Los Angeles and not leave room for a comeback.

“”They handled themselves very well and played well together,”” Juster said. “”They were very poised, which is hard to do in that situation.””

The win against Cal State Los Angeles came after a tough loss to Cal State Bakersfield in which UCSD’s shooting was uncharacteristically abysmal.

The Tritons missed their first 15 shots and found themselves in a 23-0 hole midway through the first half. UCSD shot 26 percent from the field and could not convert on any three-point shot attempts.

“”We were settling for shots that [Cal State Bakerfield] wanted to give us,”” Ricks said. “”We were letting them dictate the shots we were taking instead of doing what we normally do.””

Down by 17 at halftime, the Tritons came out stronger in the second half, but were unable to overcome the deficit. Senior forward Hillary Hansen had a game-high 20 points for UCSD, and Juster added 17 points. However, Cal State Bakersfield’s more balanced offensive attack and defense were too much for the Tritons.

“”We weren’t all on the same page,”” Ricks said. “”Bakersfield came out with physical defense and threw the first punch and we didn’t respond.””

Although Cal State Bakersfield is currently in first place in the CCAA standings, it is ineligible for the playoffs this season because of its move to Division I next season. The Tritons, with a 9-3 conference record, are looking to win the rest of their games in order to hold off Chico State, which currently sits one game behind UCSD in the standings.

The team hopes that its perfect record on the road will stay intact when it faces Cal Poly Pomona on Feb. 23 and Cal State San Bernardino on Feb. 24. The Tritons suffered a loss to Cal State San Bernardino earlier this season, and they hope that this meeting between the two teams will result in a win for the Tritons.

“”I think each one of us remembers our last game against them,”” Ricks said. “”This weekend, we need to beat them to show that their win against us was a fluke.””