One bad half, one good half, and two losses. That’s a short summary of the UC San Diego women’s basketball team’s outings against California State University, Bakersfield last week. In a home doubleheader, the Tritons were swept by the Roadrunners, 62–38 and 69–66. The Tritons drop to 2–7 overall and in the Big West, extending their losing streak to six games.
The first game was a train wreck for UCSD, but it didn’t start off that way. After being put into a hole early in the first quarter, the Tritons were able to climb back and keep the game tight. By halftime, UCSD was within striking distance, trailing by just two with the score 25–23. The second half was when the wheels fell off. The Tritons were outscored 22–6 in the third and 15–9 in the fourth. If not for free throws, UCSD would have only scored once in the entire fourth quarter.
The second game began much better for the Tritons, as they got off to a hot start, putting up 43 points in the first half, outscoring the entire output of their last game in just two quarters. The Tritons were shooting 56.3 percent from the field and were 7-for-12 at the 3-point line. They went into halftime with a comfortable 43–29 lead, capped off by a ridiculous three-quarters-court buzzer-beater by junior guard Brianna Claros. At this point, it seemed as if the Tritons had turned a corner as if they had wiped out the memory of the previous game and were on their way to a bounce-back win. But Bakersfield put up monster numbers in the third quarter, recording 27 points to UCSD’s 12. Once again, the Tritons were outscored by double-digits coming out of the half. By the fourth, the score was tied, 56–56. Four lead changes and eight and a half minutes later, the score was still even, 66–66. The final minutes of the game would remain scoreless until the Roadrunners hit a three with just 2 seconds remaining. A Hail Mary three-pointer by the Tritons at the buzzer missed, sealing the Tritons’ second loss of the week at 69–66.
The entire team struggled in the first matchup, with no players breaking 10 points. Senior guard Tyla Turner, the team’s most reliable shooter, was limited to just 7 points and a 16.7 percent effective field goal percentage (eFG%), but she was still tied as the Tritons’ top scorer in that game. Turner did bounce back in the second game, scoring 18 points and recording an eFG% of 77.3 percent. Meanwhile, redshirt junior guard Emily Cangelosi has solidified her role as a starter for the team. Cangelosi was on the court for over 30 minutes in both matchups, with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists for the week.
Despite the disappointing loss, there was some good news for the Tritons. Junior guard Julia Macabuhay, who last year was CCAA Most Valuable Player and was named a Division II All-American by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, made her 2021 debut, logging her first significant game minutes since last season. The Tritons’ 2019–2020 top scorer averaged 8 minutes a game in the two matches, totaling 16 points, 2 assists, and a 55 percent effective field goal percentage.
Macabuhay was subbed in and out throughout the games, serving more of a rotational role in the lineup; this could be head coach Heidi Vanderveer slowly working her back in after being off the court for so long. As the season progresses, we could see an uptick in Macabuhay’s usage. But it’s also just as likely that we see the opposite. Macabuhay is an exceptional player, who will still be a key contributor to the team for at least another year. If her injury flares up, Macabuhay may be shut down for the rest of the truncated season to prevent further damage and risking her status next year.
Next week, the Tritons are on the road, but they are staying in Southern California. They will take on UC Riverside (7–7, 5–5 Big West) in an away doubleheader.
Photo courtesy of UC San Diego Athletics