No Jitters on Opening Night

    Center Alexis Gaskin kicked off her senior season with a dominating effort, scoring 19 points, pulling eight rebounds, and playing stingy defense for the Tritons in a 71-61 victory over Dixie State. (John Hanacek/Guardian File)

    WOMEN’S BASKETBALL — Senior forward Michelle Osier had 21 points, six rebounds and three steals Sunday afternoon, leading the UCSD women’s basketball team to a 71-61 season-opening victory over Dixie State College in a nonconference game at RIMAC Arena.

    Osier and senior center Alexis Gaskin were pivotal parts of the Tritons’ inside game. Gaskin finished the night with 19 points and eight rebounds, and was a major physical presence for the UCSD posts, who contributed 40 of the team’s 71 total points.

    Head coach Charity Elliott was happy to get the victory and was particularly pleased with the team’s post play.

    “One of our highlights tonight was just Gaskin and Osier being able to attack inside,” Elliot said. “We had a definite advantage on the inside.”
    The Tritons jumped out to an early 8-2 advantage on an Osier layup just four minutes into the contest. Dixie State fought to stay in the game, but UCSD maintained a lead that grew as large as eight points. Two free throws by Dixie State’s senior forward Jessica Carver cut the Triton lead to 23-20 with five minutes left in the half, but the Tritons responded by turning up their defense. UCSD ended the period on a 9-2 run that gave the team momentum heading into the locker room at the half.

    “Our defensive intensity played a big part in the run at the end of the half,” Gaskin said. “Everyone stepped up and it got [the Rebels] frustrated and they started forcing shots.”

    UCSD came out in the second half firing on all cylinders and increased its 37-24 halftime lead. Junior point guard Leilani Martin, who had 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals for the game, knocked down two free throws to put the Tritons ahead by 19 at the 10:40 mark.

    Responding with a surge of their own, the Rebels closed the lead by going on a 10-1 run during the following two minutes. The comeback was cut short, however, as an Osier layup off a Martin assist and a jumper by Gaskin secured the Triton lead.

    The Rebels made a final push in the closing three minutes of the game and came within six points, but Martin made sure it was the closest they came. The transfer hit an important jumper with 26 seconds left, and two free throws by Osier ensured the win for UCSD.

    Junior guard Leilani Martin did a little bit of everything for coach Charity Elliott. She filled the box score with 13 points, seven rebounds, a team-leading five assists and three steals in 35 minutes of action. (John Hanacek/Guardian File)

    Gaskin said she was glad that the team was able to hold off Dixie State’s runs and get the victory.

    “You always want to start out strong with a win,” she said. “Being able to come out at home and get the first one out of the way feels pretty good.”

    For the contest, UCSD shot 27 of 60, good for 45 percent while the Rebels hit only 38 percent of their shots. The Tritons also won the battle of the boards by out-rebounding Dixie State 39-35.

    The Tritons go on the road for their next games to Bellingham, Wash., for the California Collegiate Athletic Association/Great Northwest Athletic Conference Classic to take on Seattle Pacific and Western Washington on Nov. 21 and 22, respectively.

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