Tritons Down Mustangs, Extend Winning Streak to Three


Kurt Johnston

UC San Diego Women’s Basketball (8–9, 5–2 Big West) defeated California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo (5–10, 2–5 Big West) at LionTree Arena Thursday night, shooting 54% from the field in the second half en route to a 70–58 victory. After squandering a 13 point lead in the second quarter, the Tritons took the lead early in the third and never looked back. Redshirt senior Julia Macabuhay led the Tritons with 18 points, adding a block and a steal to an incredible all-around performance. The victory extended the Tritons’ winning streak to three games, placing the team fourth in the competitive Big West conference.

The Tritons dominated the Mustangs early, racing to a 16–4 lead in the first six minutes. Sophomore Izzy Forsyth opened the scoring with a neat reverse layup and Macabuhay added a close range finish for her first points of the game. Junior Parker Montgomery and graduate student Sydney Brown both made threes to contribute to UCSD’s early run. After the Mustangs cut the deficit to ten, Brown hit her second three pointer of the game to make it 19–6 Tritons. Cal Poly closed the first quarter with three made free throws, but the Tritons entered the second period with a commanding 10 point advantage. 

The second quarter proved fickle, and momentum swung towards the Mustangs. After Cal Poly opened the quarter with a layup, a Macabuhay corner three made it a 23–12 Triton lead. However, the rest of the period was all Cal Poly, as the Mustangs went on a 15–3 run in the final seven minutes of the half. The Tritons shot 0 for 8 during this period, including five missed threes. Five team fouls and five offensive rebounds allowed also contributed to UCSD’s woes defensively. The Mustangs had stolen the lead back from the Tritons and headed into the locker room with a 27–26 advantage.

The first five minutes of the third quarter were a back and forth affair. Perhaps inspired by a fiery halftime speech and a raucous LionTree crowd, the Tritons went on a 6–0 run to open the half. Forsyth, Macabuhay, and Brown all had points in the paint to establish a five point Triton lead early in the third. Macabuhay added a chase down block and a fast break layup, taking advantage of a Sydney Brown steal. Cal Poly, however, responded with a crowd silencing and-one basket. Despite an electric start to the quarter, the Tritons found themselves in a tied game with five minutes left in the third.

The Tritons closed out the quarter with a fiery performance. After the Mustangs drew level, sophomore Bridget Mullens had two putback layups to reestablish a four point Triton lead. On the next possession, redshirt senior Emily Cangelosi hit an open three after a passage of excellent Triton ball movement. After the teams traded free throws, Forsyth made a three of her own to extend the lead to ten. Cangelosi and Forsyth’s three pointers came after eight straight missed threes for the Tritons, swinging momentum in UCSD’s direction for the remainder of the game. Cal Poly responded with a made jumper from the elbow, but Cangelosi finished an inside layup to end the quarter leading 50–40. 

The fourth quarter was more of the same for the Tritons, who were never threatened by the Mustangs down the stretch. After Cal Poly made it a five point game, UCSD shut the door on the Mustangs, ending on a 15–8 run. Mullens extended the Triton lead to seven after two free throws. A couple of possessions later, graduate student Madison Baxter hit a dagger three after some clever Triton passing. On the next Cal Poly possession, Macabuhay had a steal and a midrange jumper to make it a nine point game. After a Mustang score, Macabuhay pulled up from deep three point range, further sinking the Mustangs. She completed her seven point run with a couple of free throws on the following possession. The Tritons cruised for the final two minutes, holding their double digit lead for a final score of 70–58.

The UCSD Guardian caught up with Coach Heidi VanDerveer after the game, who looked back on the up-and-down win.

“We played really well in the first five minutes, rolling defensively, hitting shots, and loosening up their defense … in the later parts of the [first half], we lost our way a little bit,” VanDerveer said. “In the second half, our veterans just decided that this is not happening tonight, and I think that when they decide and lead our team, we are very good.”

The Tritons look to extend their winning streak to four against Long Beach State on Saturday, avenging their 52–66 loss earlier this season, one of only two losses to conference opponents. A win on Saturday would see the Tritons move to third place in the Big West, trailing only UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine. The Tritons return to LionTree Arena next week, with two matchups against CSU Northridge and UC Riverside.

Photo Courtesy of Gauri Swarup of the UCSD Guardian