In what should have been ruled a jump ball with the possession going the other way in favor of the Tritons, center referee Lisa Ulmer issued Dautremont her fourth foul of the night, sending Johansson to the line.
The West Regional MVP sunk both attempts, extending the Seawolf lead to 63-66.
With the ball, but without a timeout and 22 seconds left on the clock, senior guard Chelsea Carlisle raced down into Anchorage’s half, marked tightly by All-West Region selection junior Sasha King, Carlisle worked the ball round the perimeter to find UCSD shooter Daisy Feder. With the hot hands on the night, Feder threw up a rushed three-pointer that ricocheted off the side of the Triton backboard and out of bounds.
Denying the inbounder, UCSD forced a 5-second violation— a make-up call on Ulmer’s part — that gave the Tritons another chance with the ball on their own side of the court.
With six seconds left, and all 606 in attendance still on their feet, the Tritons found Feder, who had no choice but to force a tough shot from 25 feet out. Feder, leading all scorers with 22-points on the night, missed her mark, as Alaska Anchorage took the West Region crown.
“There were some things that we executed to perfection, we just didn’t get some of the breaks,” UCSD head coach Charity Elliott said.
A few conversions on a few near misses may have stemmed the bleeding, and cut Anchorage’s momentum early on.
Dautremont was 2-of-7 within her first 11 minutes on the court, missing her jumpers from the elbow and a couple shots down on the block.Feder went 4-of-11 by the end of the first half, forcing Carlisle to pick up the slack.
Conversely, Anchorage ended the first period with a 10-point lead, on 55.6 percent from behind the arc, all largely without the help of Johnasson whose three early fouls kept her on the bench.
“In the first half, we wanted to really walk the ball up the court. We thought it would frustrate them a little bit to control tempo,” Alaska Anchorage head coach Tim Moser said. “I thought the two teams that played them earlier did a poor job of trying to run with them, especially at their home court.”
Ranked No. 1 in the nation between Jan. 20 and their conference semifinal loss to CSU Los Angeles on March 2, Division II coaches have agonized over how to beat UCSD’s fast-paced transition game. But with bigger, stronger inside posts matched with a very competent point guard in King, Moser seems to have found the key.
“I thought we had the advantage in the half court, and I thought if we got that game in the half court, we would win it,” Moser said.
UCSD managed to mount a comeback midway through the second half when Feder caught fire, cutting the lead down to just one point at the 9:30 minute mark and again in the last minute of regulation. But it was too little, too late as the Tritons still couldn’t figure out a way to match up against Johansson, who overwhelmed UCSD on the post.
“[Alaska Anchorage] has such size inside. They outweigh us in so many different categories and we really had a tough time,” Elliott said. “We tried everything. We tried some zone, we tried doubling down. But when [Johansson] caught inside it was almost two points automatically.”
With the defeat in the single elimination NCAA Division II tournament, UCSD ends their historic season with a 30-3 overall record. The 2011-2012 squad set a school record for their 26 consecutive wins.
The loss marks the last game for Triton seniors Feder, Carlisle and center Lauren Freidenberg. The “Big Three” combined for 40 points in the West Regional final, with Carlisle and Feder both named to the West Region All-Tournament team.
“[Our seniors] played their hearts out and that even makes it more difficult to end it that way,” Elliot said. “This class was the first class that I signed when I got here, and I just couldn’t be more proud of their efforts.”
Second-seed Alaska Anchorage will advance to the Elite Eight in San Antonio, Texas next week, where they will face the second-seed from the Midwest Region, Ashland University.
“It’s been the most amazing ride I’ve ever been on in my life and it’s been a whole lot of fun, and it’s going to be hard waking up in the morning realizing that we don’t get to practice,” Elliott said. “Alaska’s a great team, and it’s unfortunate that both of us couldn’t be going on to the elite eight.”