Tritons dim the lights on Cal State Bakersfield’s Big West tournament campaign

Tritons dim the lights on Cal State Bakersfields Big West tournament campaign
Photo by Keita Kobayashi/ UCSD Guardian

UC San Diego women’s basketball (12–16, 8–9 Big West) hosted the California State University  Bakersfield Roadrunners (8–19, 5–13 Big West) at Liontree Arena on Thursday night. Hoping to clinch a spot in the Big West Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament, the Roadrunners arrived in La Jolla with high stakes and higher hopes. However, the Tritons kept the energy hot following a riveting 69–65 win in overtime against UC Irvine last week and put a flame on their opponent’s dreams of tournament qualification with a 50–43 victory.


The match started quickly, with junior guard Izzy Forsyth opening the scoring from the paint. However, neither the Tritons nor the Roadrunners were able to maintain any scoring momentum in the first quarter, with the Roadrunners clocking in at 4–12 (33%) from the field and the Tritons shooting a measly 6–21 (29%) from the field. After ten minutes, the score was 12–12, and the game was still up in the air.


The second quarter told a story similar to the first: neck and neck scoring (or lack thereof). The Tritons started the quarter off on the right foot, going on an 8–2 run thanks to graduate student guard Denali Pinto. Pinto was able to swish in the Tritons’ first two 3-point field goals in just two minutes after the team’s struggle behind the arc put them at 0–10 from three. However, the Roadrunners responded with an 8–2 run of their own to equalize the score once more at the end of the first half, 22–22.


Coach Heidi VanDerveer invigorated the Tritons going into the second half of the match, and the Tritons provided a much more dominant display against their opponents. 


UCSD thrived particularly when it came to points in the paint, with 6 of their third-quarter points coming from either a layup or jumper within the area. Redshirt freshman guard Gracie Gallegos showed a particularly strong performance this quarter, with five points in the third and four of the Tritons’ six points in the paint. 


However, the Tritons were also able to threaten the Roadrunners with their aggressive defensive plays. Ranking in the top 4 of defensive ratings in the Big West (57.5 points conceded per game), UCSD was successful in providing help defense for one another and coordinating quick and efficient switches between man assignments. In addition, the Tritons were also successful in closing the lane, forcing the Roadrunners, who were already struggling from three, to settle for shots behind the arc. Cal State Bakersfield shot a shocking 2–15 from the field and an equally shocking 1–8 from the three-point line. 


The Tritons ended the third quarter with their most comfortable lead so far, a 36–28 advantage. In the final ten minutes, the Tritons only had two goals in mind: park the bus and run with the win. The Roadrunners put up a high-energy fight until the very end. However, it was the Tritons’ defense once again that kept Cal State Bakersfield at the perimeter and away from the lane. Gallegos continued to show out in the fourth quarter, leveraging her strong rebounding skills. The redshirt freshman guard finished the game with 11 rebounds, 4 of them coming from the final stretch of the match. Although the Roadrunners outscored the Tritons 15–14 in the quarter, UCSD secured the win and put Cal State Bakersfield in even more jeopardy of regular-season elimination.


With another win in the books and their first tournament-eligible season around the corner, the UCSD Tritons are looking to end their final D1 transition season on a high note. The Tritons played their last home game against Cal State Northridge (2–26, 0–18 Big West) before embarking on a two-game road trip to close a transitional chapter for good.

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About the Contributors
Keita Kobayashi
Keita Kobayashi, Photo Editor
Photo team, best team (W.I.P)
Hana Tobias
Hana Tobias, Photographer
Hana is a fourth year Cognitive Science major.
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