The Triton backcourt shadowed the inbounders as Humboldt guard Kayla Williams didn’t waste any time getting into UCSD’s half of the court. Williams teetered at the top of the key as the Tritons layed off. With the clock winding down and UCSD cutting off any plausible option in the key, Williams took the space UCSD allowed her, going in hard and pulling up for a midrange jumper that gave the Lumberjacks the win, 73-74.
“That was a heartbreaking comeback,” Humboldt announcer Louise Osborne said after the game.
The 73-74 road loss was the first defeat of the season for the No. 1 nationally ranked Tritons. And going into their match against Humboldt, UCSD stood just two games away from a regular season perfect record.
“Honestly, Humboldt was just better the other night,” UCSD head coach Charity Elliott said. “ They made some big shots and we came up just short.” Four out of the Tritons’ five starters recorded double digits. Feder led UCSD in scoring with 18 points, while senior guard Chelsea Carlisle followed closely with 15 points, sinking three of four from behind the arc.
But the difference between the two squads may have been on their benches. UCSD’s only substantial substitute was sophomore sixth man Megan Perry, while Humboldt had three Lumberjacks who recorded time on the court in double digits.
Maybe the difference could have been that the Tritons just got off to too slow a start. UCSD didn’t succeed in cutting the deficit — which grew to as much as nine points in the first half — until Feder sunk one with 10 seconds left in the period. The last time the Tritons overtook a lead that late in the game was six games prior, against Cal State Los Angeles.
In either case, the Lumberjacks, who also beat Cal State San Bernardino in their season finale, have now maneuvered themselves into second place in the CCAA.
Not many people would have picked the Lumberjacks to down the Tritons. In the teams’ last meeting, UCSD won by a 25-point margin, 74-49. If I were to put odds on a CCAA contender, it would have been previously nationally ranked Cal State Monterey Bay, who the Tritons beat comfortably the weekend before 72-64. Despite the loss, the Tritons retain both their No. 1 national rank as well as their regular season conference title.
On Friday, UCSD capped CCAA play with a 78-58 win against Sonoma State on the road. Unlike their last game, the Tritons started off hot, taking a five-point lead off of three consecutive three-pointers from Carlisle and Feder. “I think [the game against Humboldt] was a good wake up call for us and I loved how much energy and focus we came out with last night versus Sonoma State,” Elliott said.
Feder again led the Tritons in scoring again, ending her season with a career-high 26 points, going 5-of-9 from behind the arc.
“Daisy was unbelievable tonight,” Elliott said to the UCSD Athletics Department. “We got a lot of good minutes from several people and the bench played really well, but Daisy really carried us through.”
The Tritons were excellent from the perimeter, shooting 56.3 percent from the field, sinking 18 of their 32 attempts. UCSD overwhelmed the Seawolves, taking a 14-point lead by the end of the first half, which they increased to 20 points by the end of the game. Ending the season with a 27-1 record, the Tritons now look forward to hosting the semifinal and final rounds of the CCAA tournament. Tournament play will begin on Tuesday, Feb. 28 and will feature the eight top finishers in CCAA play. The Tritons receive the first-seed and will face off against eighth-seed Sonoma State at 7 p.m. at RIMAC arena.
“Now it’s time to focus on the tournament and just take one day at a time,” Elliott said. “We are proud of what we have done up to this point, but now is the time that matters. We are 0-0 and a new season has begun. We are so glad to be home and hope we see a big crowd for us Tuesday night.”
The Tritons will be joined by second-seed Cal State Monterey Bay, third-seed Cal Poly Pomona, fourth-seed Humboldt State, fifth-seed Chico State, sixth-seed Cal State Los Angeles and seventh-seed Cal State East Bay.
The winners of their respective matches will advance to the semifinal round, to be played on Saturday, March 2. The championship game will be played the following day.