Wins Keep Title Hopes Alive

    WOMEN’S BASKETBALL — The UCSD women’s basketball team won
    both of its home games last weekend, pushing its California Collegiate Athletic
    Association record to 11-5 to remain in third place. The Tritons coasted to an
    easy 67-30 victory over Cal State Los Angeles on Feb. 15 before winning a
    closer contest over Cal State Dominguez Hills on Feb. 16 by a score of 75-64.
    UCSD has four games left in the regular season to make up the two games that
    separate them from first place in the conference.

    Before its game against CSUDH, UCSD celebrated Senior Night
    as fans said goodbye to eight seniors playing the last home game of their
    careers. The Tritons opened up the night with five straight points from senior
    center Alexis Gaskin to begin what would prove to be an extremely close first
    half.

    Senior center Alexis Gaskin had 14 points, six boards and a block in a 75-64 win over the Toros on Feb. 16. (Sanh Luong/Guardian)

    The Tritons and Toros fought hard throughout the first
    period with Gaskin aiding the Tritons with 11 first-half points. With both
    teams all tied up at 31-31 with one second remaining until halftime, senior
    forward Meaghan Noud was fouled and hit both of her freethrows to give the
    Tritons a 33-31 lead at halftime.

    UCSD stepped up its intensity from the start of the second
    half, driving hard to the basket and getting the Toros in foul trouble early.
    The Toros didn’t leave without a fight, however, hitting open jumpers and
    refusing to let the Tritons open up a sizeable lead.

    The Tritons held on to their slim lead throughout the second
    half, keeping control of the game’s tempo. With 3:37
    left in the game, Noud hit a three-pointer that gave UCSD a 68-57 lead the
    Tritons would not relinquish on their way to a 75-64 victory.

    Noud led all scorers with 28 points, with UCSD’s other four
    starters being the only Tritons to score in the game. The Tritons played in
    front of a larger crowd than usual as family and friends came out to watch the
    seniors play their last regular season game at RIMAC Arena.

    “We saw a lot of alumni and it was amazing to play in front
    of them,” Noud said. “I never thought I’d be here, but I’m hoping to have
    another home game [in the playoffs].”

    The night before Senior Night proved to be easier for the
    Tritons, as they beat CSULA by the largest margin of victory UCSD has posted
    all season. The ease of victory was significant as the Tritons beat the Golden
    Eagles by only one point earlier in the season.

    The Tritons started out the game with a three-point basket
    from Noud and held onto the lead for the entire game. Noud added two more
    three-pointers in the half, giving her 11 points before halftime while the
    Golden Eagles managed to score only nine points as a team. Senior guard Alexis
    Mezzetta also scored a three-pointer to help the Tritons take a 25-9 lead into
    halftime.

    In the second half, both offenses picked up the pace with
    the Tritons still maintaining complete control of the game. UCSD scored early
    and often, shooting over 60 percent from the floor in the second half of the
    contest. With the Tritons holding a commanding lead over the Golden Eagles,
    UCSD was able to tap into its bench and play a total of 14 players.

    By the end of the game, there were no starters in for UCSD
    but the scoring did not let up. The Tritons ended the night with a 37-point
    victory in which 12 players scored.

    “It was neat to have everyone get in the game,” junior
    forward Michelle Osier said. “It was cool that there were a few girls that
    don’t see much playing time and they played really well … [CSULA] kept its
    starters in the game, so our team was going against their starters.”

    Noud led the way for the Tritons with 22 points in just 23
    minutes while no other UCSD player scored in double-digits. Senior center
    Krystle Flower came off the bench to collect five rebounds in 10 minutes of
    play, while sophomore guard Annette Ilg scored six points off the bench for the
    Tritons. With most of their recent contests having been closely contested
    battles, it was a nice change for the Tritons to get a blowout victory.

    “I really think that kind of win can help the team in the
    future,” Noud said. “It lets everyone relax and play basketball instead of
    having to stress out.”

    The Tritons have four more basketball games left in the
    regular season before they begin the playoffs with the CCAA Championship
    Tournament. UCSD is currently tied for third place in the CCAA while remaining
    two games behind CSUSB and Chico State
    University
    , who are tied for first
    place. UCSD will have to win its remaining games and hope for losses from the
    top teams to have any chance to be the top seed and host the tournament.

    UCSD will face CSUSB in its next game on Feb. 22 in what
    will be the Tritons’ biggest game before the playoffs. The Tritons face a team
    that they lost to earlier in the season in Cal Poly Pomona the next night. All
    of UCSD’s remaining games will be played on the road.

    “Next weekend will be hard when we play the team that’s tied
    for first and a team that we lost to the first time,” Mezzetta said. “We need
    to win our next four games and hopefully host the first round of the
    tournament. It’s been a strange season with ups and downs, but we are playing
    our best basketball right now.”

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