Women’s Basketball Takes Home Consecutive CCAA Titles to End Division II Era

Photo Courtesy Chad Caddy/UCSD Athletics

This week the UC San Diego women’s basketball team launched its postseason run by winning the 2020 California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament, taking down California State University, San Marcos 73–62 to take home the title. 

UCSD came into the tournament ranked as the second-seed. Though UCSD was tied with the first-seed CSU San Marcos for the best record in the conference, it lost the tiebreaker since it lost both regular-season outings against San Marcos. Nonetheless, based on its strong regular season, UCSD came into the tournament as a strong favorite to take the conference title.

To reach the finals, UCSD took on California State University, Stanislaus in the semifinal. After going down early, the Tritons recovered and put together a strong first half. While the Warriors managed to sink a little less than a third of their shots, the Tritons were almost at 50 percent when shooting. UCSD closed out the second quarter with a comfortable 39–26 lead. 

However, despite going into halftime with a comfortable 13-point lead, during the second half, the game seemed to swing in favor of Stanislaus State. By the end of the third quarter, the Warriors were able to overcome the 13-point deficit to take a 46–43 lead. After a crisp first half, UCSD’s play got noticeably sloppier coming out of halftime, as the team allowed Stanislaus State to go on a 20–4 run. 

But by the fourth quarter, the Tritons returned to form. Off sophomore guard Julia Macabuhay’s steal, senior guard Sydney Sharp’s triple put UCSD back on top 52–49. The Tritons defense did not allow a single point until late in the 4th quarter, at which point the game was well in hand. They also exploded on offense, shaking off their lackluster performance the previous quarter, knocking down 10-of-12 field goals and going 6-for-7 from outside the arc. UCSD closed out the game in dominant fashion, playing shutdown defense and aggressive offense, winning 73–53. 

After the game, head coach Heidi VanDerveer was quick to laud the team for their effort. “You are not going to lose [a game] in a quarter. The turning point came when [the team] huddled up and said ‘the five of us together can get whatever it is done’ and they did. We’ve got winners on our team and women that compete,” VanDerveer said.

With the victory over Stanislaus State, the Tritons advanced to the final round of the CCAA tournament for a regular-season finale rematch against CSUSM. Coming into the tournament, San Marcos was seen as the biggest obstacle in UCSD’s path to becoming repeat conference champions. The Cougars came in as the only team ranked higher than UCSD in the conference. The Tritons lost both their regular-season matchups with the Cougars: a close 69–63 game in late November and a disappointing 75–57 loss to end their regular season just one week earlier.

The Tritons got off to a fast start in the final round of the tournament. In the opening quarter, UCSD was 60 percent shooting and 2-for-3 from the three-point line. The second quarter, however, was all about defense. UCSD was limited to just 11 points after scoring 20 in the previous quarter. Despite the limited scoring in the second quarter, UCSD went into the locker room at halftime still holding onto a close 31–27 lead.

In the game against Stanislaus State, UCSD, after a slow quarter, was able to shake it off and dominate the following quarter. UCSD did just that in this game too. After a slow second quarter, the Tritons came out of halftime hot. UCSD put up 21 points each in the third and fourth quarters. Macabuhay took over on offense in the second half, knocking down four floaters from mid-range in front of the basket and four buckets from the 3-point line. Though San Marcos did put up a fight, going almost shot-for-shot with the Tritons in the fourth quarter, UCSD had accumulated a lead that was too much to overcome. The Tritons won 73–62 and were crowned CCAA champions.

“In the first game [against Cal State San Marcos] we were playing a lot of young people — new faces in different [positions] — in November and I don’t think we were ready for the moment a week ago,” VanDerveer said.

However, VanDerveer was grateful those losses occurred earlier because it showed the team’s weaknesses and allowed the team to work on those deficiencies so they did not show up in big moments.

Turner was awarded tournament MVP after the game. Turner, the team’s second-leading scorer, had a spectacular postseason performance, recording a triple-double — 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists — in the second round against Stanislaus State and double double —13 points and 13 rebounds — in the final round against San Marcos. Though Turner was excited about the award, she was quick to shift attention away from herself and give credit to the team.

Turner said, “It was my teammates. Without them, I would not be where I am at.”

Along with the CCAA championship crown, the Tritons also secured an automatic bid into the NCAA Division-II Women’s Basketball Tournament.

The first three rounds of the national tournament kick off on March 13 and run till March 18.