The UCSD women’s basketball team’s conference tournament run came to an end on Friday in a heart-wrenching 75-78 semifinal loss against Cal Poly Pomona.
The second-round conference matchup marked the third time the Tritons have met with the Broncos this season, and the third time Pomona — the only team to have swept UCSD in conference play — has gotten the win. Pomona beat the Tritons 60-51 on Feb. 24, just eight days before the tournament game.
The Tritons seemed to do everything right, as their leading scorers, junior guard Chelsea Carlisle and junior center Lauren Freidenberg, delivered. Freidenberg finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, and Carlisle had 17 points, although it was on 7-for-21 shooting. The Tritons shot a respectable 48 percent from the field, and got help from the bench, with junior shooting guard Daisy Feder going 3-of-6 from behind the arc.
But despite a solid showing, the Tritons still had no answer for league MVP Reyana Colson. The Bronco senior guard went 11-of-22 to finish with 26 points. She was helped by junior forward Megan Ford, who posted a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
UCSD maintained control for most of the first half and deep into the second period. Eight minutes into the second half, the Tritons led by as many as 13 points eight minutes into the second half, outscoring the Broncos 21-11 in the first seven minutes of the period. But three consecutive three-pointers from Bronco guard Sarah Semenero brought Pomona to within one point. The Broncos then took the lead in the next possession, after hitting a pair of free throws.
From there, Colson and Ford took control, forcing Triton turnovers and combining to score 12 of the next 14 points for the Broncos. Ford scored 14 points in the second half.
With 26 seconds remaining, the Tritons cut down a five-point Bronco lead with a jumper by Carlisle, followed by a rebound by Freidenberg, bringing the game to 76-75. But Ford sunk a pair of free throws to extend the lead in the next possession, and Carlisle’s three at the buzzer finished the Tritons off.
The Tritons were outrebounded 37-27 for the game, and Pomona had 17 offensive rebounds. Pomona also held the advantage in bench scoring, 20-12. UCSD hasn’t been to the CCAA championship game since the 2007-08 season.
The Tritons finished league play with an impressive 17-5 record, but with a 20-11 overall record, the Tritons — currently ranked ninth in the West Region are a long shot to receive a berth into the NCAA tournament. The Broncos — who went on to win the conference title against first-seeded Monterey Bay — will receive the automatic bid to continue to the tournament.
UCSD started the season ranked 11th in the country, but quickly dropped out of the top 25 after a slow start. The Tritons went 2-7 in their non-conference games, although two of the losses were to Division I opponents. The team got hot in the second half of the season, losing only once after Jan. 22.
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