No. 20 UCSD Splits League Contests

    Junior forward Michelle Osier was named the California Collegiate Athletic Association women’s basketball player of the week, as she averaged 15.5 points and 16.5 rebounds per game on Jan. 18 and 19. (Mike Chi/Guardian)

    WOMEN’S BASKETBALL­ — The No. 20 UCSD women’s basketball
    team returned home from a four-game road trip to mixed results in two tightly
    contested games at RIMAC Arena. The Tritons split their games over the weekend,
    losing the first against Cal Poly Pomona by a score of 66-61 on Jan. 18 before
    posting a 68-60 victory over Cal State San Bernardino on Jan. 19. The Tritons
    remain in fourth place in the California Collegiate Athletic Association with a
    conference record of 5-3 and an overall record of 13-5.

    After suffering a loss in a close game to Cal Poly Pomona,
    the Tritons found themselves in another close contest against Cal State San
    Bernardino. The Coyotes came out swinging, taking a 10-2 lead over the Tritons
    three minutes into the game. But UCSD battled back and took a 15-14 lead on two
    free throws from sophomore guard Annette Ilg.

    The Tritons and Coyotes went back and forth for much of the
    first half, with both teams active on the defensive end. With 5:12 left in the
    first half and UCSD up 20-18, senior forward Meaghan Noud hit a three-point
    shot to give the Tritons a five-point lead. UCSD closed out the half on a high
    note with key scores from junior forward Michelle Osier and a three-point
    basket from senior guard Alexis Mezzetta to take a 34-26 lead going into
    halftime.

    Noud opened up the second half with another three-pointer to
    extend the UCSD lead to double digits. The Coyotes stormed back, using hot
    shooting from the three-point line as well as in the paint to take a 40-39 lead
    with 12:43 left in the game. The Tritons took back the lead on free throw shots
    from Osier, and held on from there, eventually extending their lead and
    finishing with a 68-60 win over the Coyotes.

    UCSD handed Cal State San Bernardino its second conference
    loss, moving to one game behind the Coyotes in the CCAA standings. Much of the
    Coyotes’ success this season can be attributed to the conference’s scoring
    leader, forward Vanessa Wilt, who averages a conference-high 21 points per
    game. Although Wilt pulled down 14 rebounds in the contest, UCSD’s defense
    managed to hold her to just 10 points.

    “We don’t have one player on our team that can stop her once
    she touches the ball,” Noud said. Therefore, the Tritons relied on team defense
    to contain Wilt and limit her shot attempts, according to Noud.

    “We tried to keep her
    from touching the ball because if she gets the ball, she’s probably going to
    score,” head coach Charity Elliott said. “We played good post defense and had
    good weak-side help.”

    UCSD had four players score in double figures in the game,
    with Noud recording 21 points for the Tritons. Osier had 14 points, Mezzetta
    scored 13 points and senior center Diahnn Futalan added 11 points for the
    Tritons in her first career start.

    The win over Cal State San Bernardino came after a tough
    loss to Cal Poly Pomona the night before. The unranked Broncos came out strong
    against the Tritons, taking an early 10-4 lead. Noud’s three-point shot cut Cal
    Poly Pomona’s lead to 10-7 with 12:38 left in the first half but the Tritons
    started to slip after that. Down 32-22 with 17 seconds left in the first half
    of the game, Mezzetta made a three-point basket to cut the Broncos’ lead to
    seven going into the break.

    The Tritons started off the scoring in the second half with
    two straight baskets from sophomore forward Erin Noonan to cut the Broncos lead
    to four. The Broncos continued their strong play, holding onto the lead until a
    pull-up jumper from senior center Alexis Gaskin gave the Tritons a 44-43 with
    11:54 remaining in the game.

    Cal Poly regained the lead with 2:18 left, forcing the
    Tritons to catch up to the Broncos late in the game. With 22 seconds left in
    regulation, Osier made a lay-up to cut the Broncos’ lead to 62-61. The Broncos
    made good on two ensuing free throws and the Tritons missed a three-point shot
    attempt that would have tied the game, leaving Cal Poly Pomona with a 66-61
    win.

    The Broncos sealed their upset win largely because of their
    strong start to the game that left the Tritons in a seven-point hole at
    halftime.

    “For some reason, we played back on our heels to start the
    game,” Elliott said. “We were timid and hesitant and that gave [the Broncos]
    confidence.”

    Despite the loss, Osier posted impressive numbers in the
    game, leading the Tritons with 17 points and 19 rebounds.

    The Tritons will return to action on Jan. 25 against San
    Francisco State as part of UCSD’s Spirit Night before hosting Cal State
    Monterey Bay on Jan. 26.

    “Anytime we’re at home we need to take care of business,”
    Elliott said. “Every game so far has been a dogfight, and I expect the same
    next weekend.”

    With both of UCSD’s upcoming opponents having losing
    records, the Tritons will have an opportunity to move up from fourth place in
    the CCAA standings.

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