LA JOLLA, Calif. -
The fourth-ranked UC San Diego women's basketball team made one of its biggest statements of the season on Friday, knocking off No. 11 Cal Poly Pomona, 78-64, in a battle of the top two teams in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
Facing their first true test in conference play, the Tritons turned in a spirited effort in front of the RIMAC Arena faithful to hand the Broncos their first loss of the season. Chelsea Carlisle scored 20 points to lead four players in double figures for UCSD, which shot 48% from the field in another impressive offensive display.
UCSD improves to 12-0 overall and 6-0 in CCAA play with the win, taking over sole possession of first place in the conference standings. The Tritons, who lost all three matchups with the Broncos last season, are now just two wins shy of matching the best start in program history set by the 2009-10 squad.
Cal Poly Pomona, which had won its first eight games of 2011-12, falls to 8-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play with the loss.
"It was a really big game for both teams and fortunately we came out on top tonight," head coach Charity Elliott said. "We relied on our veterans to set the tone and they really carried us out there. Pomona's an excellent team and we had to battle all game to keep them down."
In addition to her third 20-point scoring performance of the season, Carlisle finished with six rebounds, three assists and three steals. The Agoura Hills, Calif. native was 8-of-14 from the field and connected on 4-of-7 from the three-point line.
Lauren Freidenberg had another strong game for the Tritons as well, finishing with 16 points and eight rebounds. Emily Osga tallied 16 points, seven boards, a season-high six assists and two steals, while Daisy Feder scored 13 points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out two dimes.
Megan Ford recorded a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Broncos, while J.J. Judge scored 13 points off the bench. The Broncos shot 44% for the game, hitting 24-of-55 shots.
After an ugly start for both squads, Pomona claimed an 18-14 lead with eight minutes left in the opening half. Ariel Marsh drained a three and Ford scored inside to give the Broncos the early four-point advantage.
The Tritons came right back though as Elaina White hit a jumper, Freidenberg sank two free throws and Erin Dautremont scored in the paint to give UCSD a 20-18 lead with six and a half minutes left in the half.
The Tritons began to pull away from there, as Osga sank a three-pointer to spark a 20-8 UCSD run over the final 5:40 of the period. Carlisle and Feder combined to hit three more triples during the stretch to propel UCSD to a 40-27 lead at the break.
UCSD shot 56% in the first half, converting 14-of-25 shots from the floor, while Pomona hit 11-of-26, 42%. Freidenberg and Osga had 10 points apiece to lead the Tritons in the period.
UCSD continued to build on its lead in the second half, taking a 48-31 advantage following back-to-back baskets from Feder.
Pomona cut the defcit to 11 at 50-39 with 13:26 left to play, but Carlisle scored inside and Feder followed with five straight points to put the Tritons on top by 18 at 57-39 with 11:14 remaining.
After Pomona closed to within 15 at 60-45 with a little more than eight minutes to play, the Tritons scored the next six to take their biggest lead of the game at 66-45 with 6:43 remaining.
The Broncos pulled within 12 (69-57) following a triple by Judge with 3:15 on the clock, but it was too little too as the Tritons pushed the margin back to 17 in the waning moments.
UCSD's offense -- which currently leads the CCAA putting up 78.2 points per game -- got the better of the conference's top-ranked defense, hitting 29-of-60 shots from the field to reach its season average.
Friday's victory marked UCSD's second win over a ranked opponent this season. The Tritons defeated then-ranked No. 4 Fort Lewis College, 80-65, on the second day of the UCSD Thanksgiving Classic on November 26.
The Tritons will look to keep rolling when they travel to Cal State Stanislaus and Chico State next weekend.