UCSD Brings Out the Brooms in Alaska

    Junior forward Erin Noonan went a near-perfect 16-18 from the line for the Tritons in their three-victory effort at the Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational. Noonan racked up 22 points and 21 rebounds in the tournament. (John Hanacek/Guardian File)

    WOMEN’S BASKETBALL — Senior forward Michelle Osier continued her strong play at the Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational in Fairbanks, Alaska, leading the Tritons to three straight victories.

    UCSD opened the three-day tournament with a 65-59 victory over No. 17 Holy Family on Thanksgiving, and then downed Hawaii-Pacific 73-60 and tournament host University of Alaska 66-56.

    “It’s still early and we certainly have things to work on, but I was really pleased with our efforts on the defensive end,” head coach Charity Elliot said.

    Against the University of Alaska Nanooks, Osier did her part for the Tritons by scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds — her second double-double of the year — on 7-of-13 shooting from the field.

    The Tritons got off to a quick start, jumping out to a 14-7 advantage with 12:49 left in the first half. Free throws by junior forward Erin Noonan raised the lead to eight points late in the period, and the Tritons took a 31-25 advantage into the break.

    Coming back from intermission, the Nanooks closed the gap to three before UCSD exploded with an 8-0 run capped off by a layup from junior guard Annette Ilg. The Tritons maintained their strong surge and extended the lead to 45-32 at the 11:23 mark. A weak push from the University of Alaska was stopped short by senior center Alexis Gaskin hitting two free throws, and an Osier jumper sealed the game.

    Gaskin notched 13 points and 10 boards while Noonan scored 10 of her 12 points on the night from the foul line.

    Playing for the first time against the Hawaii-Pacific Sea Warriors, the Tritons turned up their offense, scoring a season-high 73 points. UCSD had three players in double digits while Noonan and junior guard Leilani Martin dished out six assists apiece.

    Gaskin started off the Triton attack by scoring the first four points. Two free throws by Martin put the Tritons up 25-12 midway through the first half, and the Sea Warriors could get no closer than 10 points in the period.

    Hawaii-Pacific came out battling after the break with a 13-6 run and cut the Triton advantage to three. A jumper by sophomore forward Lindsey Dreher off an Osier assist countered the Sea Warrior rally, but UCSD went scoreless over the next 1:20 and Hawaii-Pacific tied the score at 48. With the Sea Warriors only down by one point at the six-minute mark, an Ilg three-point basket started a 10-0 UCSD surge which ended Hawaii-Pacific’s hopes.

    Ilg finished the game with 15 points, five rebounds and three steals for the Tritons while Osier put forth a dominating 20-point, eight-rebound effort.

    The No. 17 Holy Family Tigers were on the receiving end of a Triton smothering, with UCSD shooting 62 percent from the field in the first half and leading by as many as 23 points before the half. Six Triton players scored to start the game as UCSD took off from the opening tip to a 21-4 lead and didn’t slow down until the intermission leading 41-22.

    Following the break, Holy Family looked like a totally different team, coming out with a 12-3 run to pull to within 10 points at the 14:33 mark. A second rally by Holy Family late in the second period brought the score to 53-52 with six minutes left in the game, but Ilg answered with a layup that sparked a 6-0 Triton run and swung the momentum back to UCSD. From that point on, the Tritons clamped down to finish the game. Despite the first-half dominance of her squad, Elliott knew the Tigers were not done fighting.

    “Holy Family is a very good team so I wasn’t surprised with their comeback,” she said. “We had a few let downs on defense and they made us pay — but I was proud of how we maintained our composure and finished out the win.”

    Osier and Gaskin combined for 30 points and 16 rebounds while Noonan had eight points and eight boards.

    While happy with the victories, Ilg said that the Tritons weren’t clicking on all cylinders — something they’ll need to fix as they enter the California Collegiate Athletic Association play.

    “We would play well in stretches but not the whole time,” she said. “Humboldt State and Sonoma State caused us some problems last year so we will need to start playing for 40 minutes.”

    The Tritons begin conference play at home against Humboldt State on Dec. 5 at 5:30 p.m. before taking on Sonoma the next day also at 5:30 p.m. in RIMAC Arena.

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