First-Round Knockout

Erik Jepsen/Guardian

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL — Unlike last year, the first round of the 2010 California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament was kind to the Tritons.

Senior guard Annette Ilg led the way with 21 points and seven rebounds, while newly crowned league MVP sophomore guard Chelsea Carlisle added 12 points and seven assists, bringing the UCSD women’s basketball team to a resounding 73-48 win over Cal State Dominguez Hills on March 2. The win earned the Tritons a semifinal date with Humboldt State on Feb. 5 — the same team that handed UCSD its first loss of the season on Jan. 21.

The Tritons, who were champs in their regular season and the top-seeded team in the tournament, avoided a repeat of last year’s disappointment, when they where knocked out in the first round by Cal State San Bernardino.

“I challenged our team tonight to come out with the same sense of urgency that we felt Dominguez Hills would come out with,” head coach Charity Elliott said. “It sure feels good to know that we’re moving on.”

Wary of an upset, the Tritons emerged with intensity and dominated the game from the beginning. The Toros found no answer for Ilg in the first half, who hit four three-pointers in the opening minutes and went on to score 16 points by halftime.

“[Dominguez Hills] started in a zone, and [Ilg] single-handedly brought them out of it,” Elliott said. “That allowed us to get back into the stuff we normally do.”

The Tritons played stifling defense, earning a commanding 22-point halftime lead. If not for a miraculous half-court three-pointer as time ran out, Ilg would have outscored the Toros on her own shots alone.

“Some nights you have good shooting nights and some nights you have bad, and tonight I was lucky — it was a good night for me,” Ilg said. “The team was doing great things, [and] I got the ball in a great situation.”

Dominguez Hills’ defense during the second half kept the game from turning into a blowout, but the opponents were never able to cut the Triton lead below 14 points. The Tritons lost some of their shooting stroke late in the game, but never looked vulnerable to losing the lead which they held from the first minute.

In addition to Carlisle’s conference MVP award, several Tritons were honored by the CCAA for their outstanding season, including three players who were named to all-conference squads.

Carlisle made first team all-CCAA, while junior forward Tiffany Hunter joined Ilg in second-team selections.

“It’s an honor because there are so many amazing players, and for me to be selected is really great,” Carlisle said. “But it’s just a little thing, and I have much bigger goals with the team.”

Coach Elliot was honored with a second consecutive CCAA Coach of the Year award after guiding her team to a second consecutive regular -season title.

“This is a team award,” Elliott said. “These kids make it a pleasure for me to come out every day and coach them, so I share it with them.”

The Tritons will face Humboldt State on the Lumberjacks’ home floor on Mar. 5, where UCSD’s perfect 14-0 season start was brought to a halt. (However, the Tritons closed the regular season with a dominating 86-51 rout of Humboldt on Feb. 26.)

“The second time we played them, we did a much better job of making every shot tough,” Elliott said. “But it will be at their place, and it will be a crazy atmosphere — so hopefully we can rise to the challenge.”

The game will be 3 p.m. on March 5 at Lumberjack Arena.

Readers can contact Liam Rose at [email protected].

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