The UC San Diego women’s basketball team (6–7, 3–1 Big West) took on the University of Hawaii (4–7, 1–1 Big West) attempting to get their third conference win of the season. After two close victories to start off the conference slate, the team lost to UC Irvine, but they came back with a purpose in this game. Using a big third quarter run, the Tritons put on one of their most impressive offensive performances again in front of an empty arena due to COVID regulations. The team was great from three-point land, shooting 43% and only committing nine turnovers. In coach Heidi VanDerveer’s tenth season at UCSD, she reached a historic 200th win with an impressive, clean performance in the Tritons’ 82–58 rout of Hawaii.
In the first quarter, UCSD started their offensive barrage quickly with a layup from senior guard Emily Cangelosi assisted by senior forward Sydney Brown. Soon after a fastbreak off a Brown rebound was converted into a nice jumpshot by senior guard Madison Baxter, taking a three point lead early with the score standing at 6–3. After exchanging some baskets, the Tritons extended their lead with consecutive layups by Brown to inflate the lead to five. The score at the end of the first quarter was 16–11, with neither team yet showing too much offensive firepower. The Tritons came out with solid play and a characteristically stout defense and would look to continue that in the second.
To start the second, Brown continued her offensive attack with another three pointer and layup. Putting the Tritons up eight at 19–11, Brown personally put up ten straight for UCSD and was an unstoppable one-woman show early on. The run continued with a steal and three pointer by Cangelosi, and the Tritons were doubling up on their opponents early, now at 26–13.
Basketball still is a game of runs though, and the lead was quickly shrunk. Hawaii went on a quick 11–2 run in two minutes of play to shrink the lead to four, converting off of turnovers and bad shot selection from the Tritons. A well-timed timeout gave UCSD a needed reset, and Cangelosi scored a three out of the break. The Tritons committed some fouls as the half expired, but a mostly clean first half culminated in a 35–28 lead going into the break, though much of the momentum was lost after the big Hawaii run.
Brown again opened the scoring for the Tritons with a three off the break opened up by a rebound from senior guard Julia Macabuhay, which Brown followed up with another three from Brown. After the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors cut the lead down to five, UCSD responded with an incredible 15–0 run to break open this game. The run started with jumpers from sophomore forward Aishah Brown and Baxter. UCSD forced multiple turnovers from Hawaii and played great defense along the run, which was punctuated by two Baxter free throws to put the lead at 20 with a 56–36 advantage in tow. While not insurmountable, the Tritons looked like they had a route under way at this point in the game after the consecutive pivotal scores. With the last possession of the quarter, Baxter splashed in a three assisted by Cangelosi to put the Tritons up 18 at the end of the third.
The momentum continued quickly in the decisive fourth quarter, with Baxter hitting another three to give the Tritons their largest lead of the matchup, with the score now at 64–43. While Hawaii had some fight left, a three by Cangelosi with six and a half minutes to go put any hope to rest for the opposition. UCSD continued to rain in the threes as they had done all the game, and a five player substitution around the two minute mark signaled this one was just about over.
UCSD played a complete game against Hawaii, playing consistent defense and scoring well from the outside. Performances from Alyssa Brown, Baxter and Cangelosi propelled the Tritons to a very impressive third conference victory. The experienced and well-coached squad are now tied for the Big West lead as conference play moves along, and this particular stellar showing is made even sweeter with coach VanDerveer’s 200th win for the Tritons.
“It means I’ve coached a lot of great players and I work with a great staff,” said coach VanDerveer of what the milestone meant to her. “We know how to win, we work hard to win, and we don’t take winning for granted.”
The next game for this up-and-coming team will come at California State University, Long Beach next Thursday, Jan. 20th, where the Tritons will look to capture another victory against a conference opponent.
Image courtesy of Scott Flanders / UC San Diego Athletics