UCSD Women’s Basketball Struggles in Close Matchup on Senior Day


Advaith Modali

This Saturday in LionTree Arena, the UC San Diego women’s basketball team (13–17, 10–10 Big West) competed in their final game of the season against California State University, Fullerton (13–15, 8–11 Big West) to celebrate their Senior Day. The Tritons fought hard throughout the game, despite some early defensive challenges. While CSUF was in control most of the game, the Tritons’ will to compete was on display with multiple efforts at cutting the Titan advantage. 

The first quarter saw tight defense from both teams, with the Titans taking an early 7–2 lead by forcing the Tritons to commit multiple turnovers. The Tritons immediately sought to get sophomore guard Bridget Mullings multiple paint opportunities during the stretch, eventually leading to a three-pointer from senior wing Emily Cangelosi that cut the lead to just one point. From this, the Tritons were able to go on a nice 15–3 scoring run, to take a 7-point lead, due to the continued paint dominance of Mullings and an and-one from senior guard Julia Macabuhay. 

The second quarter opened with another 3 from Cangelosi who finished the game with 19 points, including 5 3-pointers and 5 rebounds. The momentum started to swing in favor of the Titans, as the Tritons found themselves in foul trouble early in the quarter. The Titans quickly were able to go on a 18–6 run to take a 30–23 lead. A 3-pointer from Macabuhay set the stage for an 8–2 Triton run, culminating in a bucket from senior guard Sydney Brown to cut the lead to just one. However, the Titans responded with a run of their own, featuring consecutive 3-point baskets that gave them a 41–31 lead going into the half.

To open the second half, the Titans maintained the energy they finished the first half with, as they attacked the paint more to increase their lead to 16 at 1 point. For the Tritons, Sydney Brown was able to take control and assert herself in the game, going on a 10–5 scoring run spurred by her continued ability to drive to the paint. The Tritons’ defense, however, was not able to keep up with the fast-paced Titans, as they were able to take a 66–47 lead going into the final quarter. The high-scoring matchup was not out of character for the Tritons, but they would need to shore up their defense if they wanted any chance at an improbable comeback.

The Tritons did just that with increased defensive pressure, encapsulating the passion that these student athletes have. One bright spot was Sydney Brown, who continued to take advantage of driving opportunities and was importantly active on defense, enabling the Tritons to put more pressure with the full-court press. Brown maintained a strong level of play throughout the game, finishing with 25 points and 7 rebounds. This stifling defense from the Tritons set the stage for a 15–5 run of their own, cutting the lead down to just 13 with 3 minutes left in the game.  

However, the continued full-court press the Tritons utilized on one end of the court gave way for multiple shot opportunities for the Titans, helping them lengthen their lead. The Tritons continued to play hard for the rest of the quarter but were unable to pull off a comeback, losing 67–83 to finish off their season. 

In her interview with UC San Diego athletics, Coach Heidi VanDerveer commended the hard work the team put in throughout this season, hopeful that the seniors have instilled strong values that will keep the team playing at a strong level for future seasons. 

While the seniors may not have gotten the victory in their send-off game, they should be proud of all their efforts in moving this program forward as UCSD Women’s Basketball played competitively just shortly after being moved up to Division 1. Tune in next season for more coverage on the exciting development of Triton Women’s Basketball. 

Photo by Ellie Wang for The UCSD Guardian