SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — The Tritons are back where they belong.
The University of California San Diego women’s basketball team clinched the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) regular-season championship on Saturday night, defeating Cal State San Bernardino, 60-51, and then getting an overtime home win by Stanislaus State over Humboldt State.
The Tritons had already long clinched an 11th successive CCAA Tournament berth, as well as a first-round home game and no worse than a No. 2 seed. Heading into play Saturday night, only Humboldt State could still tip them for the title, but minutes after UC San Diego's victory at Coussoulis Arena, Stan State knocked off the Jacks in overtime in Turlock, 51-50, to put an end to that final threat.
It’s the third-straight regular-season conference title for UC San Diego (21-3, 17-1 CCAA) and the program’s sixth CCAA championship. The Tritons have won the conference outright for the second-consecutive season.
“One of our goals is to win the conference championship and win every game,” said UC San Diego head coach Heidi VanDerveer. “We did our work early this year.
“We weren’t playing exceptionally well (on Saturday), but great teams find ways to win.”
Senior guard Taylor Tanita came off the bench for the first time this season and finished with nine points and four assists.
The Tritons led by three entering the fourth quarter and held the Coyotes to just seven points in the final period. Consecutive buckets inside by Sampton and Williams pushed UC San Diego’s lead to seven, and a short jumper in the lane by Sato put the Tritons ahead, 54-48, with 5:58 left in the game.
Cal State San Bernardino (10-13, 8-11) pulled within three after Ashley Carson’s 3-pointer with 5:10 to go, but UC San Diego clamped down defensively and held the Coyotes scoreless the rest of the way.
The Tritons make their final regular-season road trip next weekend, as UCSD heads north to face Chico State on Thursday, Feb. 15, before taking on third-place Humboldt State on Saturday, Feb. 17.