Familiar Foe Hands UCSD Early Exit at Nationals

Erik Jepsen/Guardian

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL — At the NCAA Division-II Tournament on March 12, the Tritons were given another shot at redemption against age-old rivals Humboldt State — only to leave the tournament early in frustrated defeat.

No. 2 UCSD faced No. 7 Humboldt for a third straight week, quickly eliminated from the tournament after a tough 76-72 opening-round loss.

Senior guard Annette Ilg scored 25 points and eight rebounds in her outstanding final game as a Triton, but it was not enough to overcome another night of on-fire shooting from Humboldt.

In the end, Humboldt pulled off the upset win, carried by senior center Britteny Taylor’s 27 points and nine rebounds, along with a whopping total of 10 three-pointers.

Humboldt had knocked UCSD out of the California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament a week earlier, hitting eight second-half three-pointers to earn a 82-78 semifinal victory on March 5.

“We’re obviously very disappointed that we didn’t get it done and that our season’s over,” head coach Charity Elliott said. “We were playing very well early in the second half, but Humboldt just made the plays they needed to get back in it, and we didn’t do a very good job of responding.”

The Tritons and the Lumberjacks have written a contentious history this season: Humboldt accounted for three of the Triton’s mere five season losses.

After a record-breaking 14-0 start to the Triton season, the Lumberjacks handed UCSD its first loss with an 84-80 game on Jan. 21 in Arcata.

When it was the Tritons’ turn to host, they demolished the Lumberjacks on Feb. 26, winning an 86-51 game that was never even close.

However, the Lumberjacks somehow rebounded from that loss to knock the Tritons out of two different post-season tournaments twice in one week.

“This is the biggest win of the season and a tremendous victory for our program,” Humboldt coach Joddie Gleason said. “Knocking off a ranked team like UCSD is huge.”

Erik Jepsen/Guardian

As the best team for three-pointers in the conference, Humboldt accuracy from beyond the arc posed problems for the Tritons.

The teams traded buckets throughout the first half, and the Tritons went into halftime with a 34-33 lead.

UCSD returned from halftime hoping to pull in front. The team did take a 12-point lead midway through the second half — after an 11-0 run during which sophomore guard Chelsea Carlisle scored seven points — but the Lumberjacks soon countered with dominant post play.

Taylor scored 21 of her points in the second half, and the Lumberjacks finally regained the lead with just 2:32 remaining.

When Taylor hit a three on Humboldt’s next possession, she secured their lead for the rest of the game.

The Tritons sank only two of seven shots in the final two minutes, allowing the Lumberjacks to hold strong to their lead to seal the win.

While Humboldt stole the show with its accurate shooting, the Tritons only shot 34 percent during the game.

They were hurt by a lackluster night from the CCAA MVP Carlisle, shooting just 6-24 and 2-12 from beyond the arc.

Carlisle ended with 16 points and five assists, but shot only .25 percent from the field — well below her season average of .42 — while senior forward Erin Noonan scored 10 points in her final game for UCSD.

Senior guard Annette Ilg tallied 25 points and 8 rebounds, while junior forward Tiffany Hunter added seven points and 12 rebounds.

Humboldt moved on to play Chico State — a team they hammered only days before to win the CCAA tournament.

However, Chico State was up to the task and chalked an 86-76 victory.

Despite this year’s astounding start, the Tritons were knocked out in the first round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

They finished the season with an overall record of 25-5.

Readers can contact Liam Rose at [email protected].

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