Tritons Advance to CCAA Semis: Women's Basketball

    Although their first playoff game proved to be more
    nerve-racking than they had hoped, the Tritons came out on top of a nail-biter
    against San Francisco State
    University
    to advance to the
    semifinals of the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship
    Tournament. The Tritons held on to post a 59-56 victory over the visiting
    Gators that improved their record to 23-8.

    The CCAA quarterfinal game took place only four days after
    the Tritons earned a 63-47 victory over the Gators in San
    Francisco
    , but bore very little resemblance to that
    decisive victory. Junior forward Michelle Osier, whose free throws near the end
    of regulation would prove to be the game’s winning points, fittingly opened up
    the scoring with two free throws to give the Tritons a 2-0 lead.

    Senior forward Meaghan Noud was named to the CCAA All-Conference team after leading UCSD with 16.5 ppg and making a school single-season record 74 treys. (Erik Jepsen/Guardian)

    The two teams played a close game for the first several
    minutes of the half with the Gators eventually taking their first lead at 16-14
    with 10:08 to play in the half. After
    sophomore forward Erin Noonan hit a jumper to tie the game at 18, Noonan
    suffered a nasty fall while taking a charge for UCSD that sent her to the
    locker room for the rest of the game.

    The Tritons continued to fight hard without Noonan, pulling
    sophomore guards Laura Moore and Annette Ilg off the bench to fill in for the
    starting forward. Playing well on both sides of the ball, the Tritons took a
    27-20 lead off of senior forward Meaghan Noud’s free throws with 3:59 left in
    the half. Osier’s jumper at the end of the period preserved the Tritons’
    seven-point advantage as UCSD entered halftime nursing a 31-24 lead over the
    Gators.

    The Gators opened up the second half with a three-pointer to
    cut UCSD’s lead to four points but Noud responded with her third three-pointer
    of the night to give the Tritons a 34-27 lead. Despite several questionable
    calls from the referees that put senior center Alexis Gaskin in early foul
    trouble, the Tritons managed to extend their lead to open up an 11-point
    advantage over the Gators.

    “It was tough because it almost seemed like we were fighting
    with the refs who were not calling fouls or sometimes calling strange fouls,”
    Gaskin said. “Still, we kept it together and kept our composure.”

    The Tritons’ double-digit lead did not last long, however,
    as the Gators capitalized on UCSD turnovers to chip away at the Tritons’
    advantage. With 4:26 left in
    regulation, the Gators scored a three-point basket to cut UCSD’s lead to 52-50
    and climbed within one possession of the Tritons.

    “We definitely didn’t expect them to come back in it,” Osier
    said. “We wanted to extend our lead coming out of halftime, but anything can
    happen when you play a team for the third time [in a season].”

    With the game tied at 56 and less than one minute in
    regulation, Gaskin collected the offensive board from Noud’s missed jump shot
    and passed the ball to Osier in the post. Osier missed a tough shot, collected
    her own rebound and was fouled while putting up another shot. With eight
    seconds remaining, Osier knocked down both her free throws to give the Tritons
    a 58-56 lead.

    The Tritons forced a turnover on the ensuing possession and,
    after a San Francisco State
    foul, Gaskin hit one of two free throw attempts to extend the Tritons lead to
    59-56. The Gators could not convert on a last-second shot attempt, sealing the
    victory for the Tritons and sending UCSD to the CCAA semifinals.

    Osier had game-high totals of 26 points and 18 rebounds,
    including 13 offensive boards. Noud scored 17 points for UCSD and Gaskin added
    12 points and nine rebounds.

    “This is the playoffs — everybody is at their best,” head
    coach Charity Elliott said. “We beat a talented and hardworking team in San
    Francisco
    State
    .
    Osier had a phenomenal game with 13 [offensive] rebounds and [senior guard
    Alexis] Mezzetta did a great job taking care of the ball. Annette Ilg and Laura
    Moore stepped in and Gaskin played well for a huge team win.”

    The Tritons’ next game will come against Sonoma
    State University

    in San Bernardino on March 7 at 12:30 p.m. The two teams split the season
    series, with the Tritons posting a 72-59 victory at home in the most recent of
    the two meetings.

    Sonoma’s a very
    talented team,” Elliott said. “We split with them this season and I expect it
    to be 40 minutes of battle.”

    The winner of that contest and the winner of the following
    game between Chico State
    University
    and Cal Poly Pomona will
    face off on March 8 in the CCAA Championship game.

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