Photo by: CCAA
Senior Kayla Sato scored 27 points in the Tritons CCAA semifinal victory on Friday.

Sato Erupts for 27 Points as Tritons Top Cal State San Marcos in CCAA Semifinal, 70-63

UC San Diego

HAYWARD, Calif. — The Tritons are on a mission to bring home the California Collegiate Athletic Association title, and they played like it on Friday.

Senior guard Kayla Sato recorded season highs of 27 points and 10 rebounds, lifting the University of California San Diego women’s basketball team to a hard-fought victory over Cal State San Marcos, 70-63, in the CCAA semifinals at Cal State East Bay.

UC San Diego (28-0) will now face No. 2-seed Cal Poly Pomona in the CCAA Tournament final on Saturday evening beginning at 5:05 p.m.

Sato scored 18 of her 27 points in the first half before junior forward Mikayla Williams took over in the second half, finishing with 21 points and eight rebounds on 5-of-8 shooting and 11-for-15 from the free-throw line. 

Senior guard Joleen Yang made three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points, while junior forward Haleigh Hatfield grabbed 13 rebounds.

Sato’s performance brought back memories of last year’s postseason, when the Torrance, Calif., native was the Tritons’ leading scorer in the 2018 CCAA Tournament semifinal and final. Sato was named to the CCAA All-Tournament Team, then went on to erupt for a career-high 28 points in an NCAA West Region quarterfinal win against Seattle Pacific.

Prior to Friday, Sato reached 20 points only once all season. She missed nine games early in the year due to injury, but appears ready to make up for lost time.

UC San Diego led by three at halftime and clung to its three-point lead heading into the fourth. Junior guard Sydney Sharp’s baseline runner helped keep it a three-point game and Williams’ strong move to the left with a sweeping hook shot made it 52-49 with 5:30 remaining.

An offensive rebound and bucket by Hatfield off Sato’s missed free throw put the Tritons ahead by seven, but a Cougars’ 3-pointer at the other end by Kelsey Forrester made it 61-57 with 1:54 left to play.

A Williams bucket inside off Sato’s post-entry pass pushed the lead 63-57 with 1:22 to go.

Cal State San Marcos (18-10) hung tough until the end, but Akayla Hackson missed three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt with 11 seconds remaining, as UC San Diego hung on for the win.

About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country.  The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference.  UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent.  A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Post Graduate Scholarships.  In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.

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