Women’s Basketball Wins Big, Honoring National Women and Girls in Sports Day

Emer Nolan

The UC San Diego women’s basketball team (10–10, 7–3 Big West) ran away with a victory against UC Riverside (4–16, 2–8 Big West) this Saturday, emerging 63–50 victors. Fresh off of a win against California State University, Northridge, the UCSD Tritons made their mark with strong performances both individually and as a team, dominating the UC Riverside Highlanders for the majority of the game. The event gathered a fiercely supportive audience, with Pep Band, in particular, standing out as the MVPs; their cheerleading efforts may or may not have contributed to Riverside’s paltry 57.1% free throw rate.

Despite a slow start — with UCSD down 6 points within the first 3 minutes of the first quarter — the Tritons pushed hard to make up the loss and surge into the lead. A consequent pair of 3-pointers from redshirt senior guard Emily Cangelosi helped make up the deficit, and 2 points from a jump shot by graduate student guard Sydney Brown with 6 seconds left on the clock pushed the score in the home team’s favor for the first time in the game, a dynamic that would continue through the rest of the afternoon. The first quarter ended 14–12 with UCSD in the lead.

The second quarter picked up right where the first left off, with a flurry of points from up and down the Triton roster. The hosts held control of play with such consistency that the Highlanders were unable to gain a purchase for the first half of the quarter. Brown extended her point tally with a pair of jumpers, and junior guard Parker Montgomery made an impact on the score sheet with a routine set of free throws, a jumper, and a 3-pointer. Perhaps the most picture-perfect moment of the period was a shot taken and sunk from just beyond midcourt by redshirt senior guard Julia Macabuhay just after the halftime buzzer. Unfortunately for the hosts, it didn’t count toward the score. Nonetheless, the teams stood 35–24 at the break, with the scales tipped in UCSD’s favor.

The third quarter saw more of the same, with a free throw each from Cangelosi and Montgomery. Despite the Tritons dominating in points, the third period was one of more back-and-forth scoring. Although UC Riverside put 13 more points on the board, they were unable to catch up to a very in-form UCSD. A set of strong free throws by Cangelosi pushed the home side to a 16-point lead with 20 seconds left on the clock, pushing the score for the quarter to 53–37.

More of the same ensued in the final period, despite a few points gained by UC Riverside from a jump shot and a free throw in the beginning. Cangelosi continued to find the basket, and the quarter also saw contributions from Montgomery and sophomore guard Izzy Forsyth, who was also having a productive afternoon. UC Riverside narrowed the gap in the score from 16 to 13 points, but the Tritons were clear leaders throughout, and the final few minutes were just a waiting game for the buzzer to cement the hosts as victors. When the buzzer finally rang, UCSD was the comfortable winner, with the score set at 63–50.

Cangelosi was a standout player for the Tritons that day, racking up 22 points, which included 4 3-pointers.  Montgomery and Brown made big waves, scoring in the double digits with 14 and 10 points, respectively, and Forsyth, who led the team in rebounds with 9 points. Coming back after an initial deficit was impressive, and the controlling win will contribute to positive momentum in the games to come. 

Saturday was also National Girls and Women in Sports Day, which was commemorated by the team after the game. Coach Heidi Vanderveer took a few moments to address the audience, among which was a group of young girls who had taken to the court at halftime to show off their own basketball skills. Speaking to these kids, Vanderveer sent heartfelt messages of encouragement and empowerment to the next generation of sportswomen.

The Tritons are set to travel on Thursday to take on UC Irvine in another Big West matchup for their first meetup of the 2022-23 season. UC Irvine will certainly pose a challenge, as current Big West leaders, but UCSD will look to come away with another victory and extend their new winning streak to three games on the bounce.

Photo Courtesy of Justin Lu