LOS ANGELES - The UC San Diego women's basketball team clinched a spot in next week's California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament with a 68-61 victory against Cal State L.A. Friday at The Eagles' Nest.
The win, UCSD's fifth straight, moved the team to 16-9 overall and 13-8 in the CCAA. With one regular season game remaining, the Tritons have secured their spot in the league's six-team tourney, which will be held March 6-8 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif.
"It was an excellent win for our team tonight," said UCSD head coach Heidi VanDerveer. "We competed very hard for 40 minutes."
It was the fourth consecutive loss for CSULA, which fell to 15-10 overall and 12-9 in the CCAA.
UCSD is currently tied with Chico State for second place in the CCAA. Cal Poly Pomona (18-3) leads the standings, while Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State L.A. and Cal State East Bay are all tied for fourth at 12-9. Humboldt State is still alive for a tourney slot at 11-10.
Megan Perry paced UCSD with 20 points and six assists, both game-highs. All six of Perry's field goals came from beyond the three-point arc. Miranda Seto finished with 11 points, while McKennan Bertsch and Erin Dautremont each contributed 10 points and a team-best eight rebounds.
"Megan was very aggressive and hit timely shots," said VanDerveer. "Miranda and Stephanie (Yano) really controlled the tempo both defensively and offensively for us."
The Golden Eagles got 13 points out of Paige Melville and 12 from Alisha Belt. Destinee La Fountain put away nine points with a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Tritons took the lead for good with 15:54 left in the first half. After a Dautremont jumper tied it up at 7-7, a pair of free throws by Bertsch put UCSD up 9-7 and it would not trail again. The Tritons extended their lead to 12-7 when Seto canned a three-pointer two minutes later.
A trey by Cassie MacLeod with just under four minutes left in the opening half gave UCSD a 12-point lead at 33-21, the team's largest advantage of the game. However, the Golden Eagles finished the frame on an 8-2 run, making the score 35-29 at the break.
Back-to-back jumpers by Melville and Belt opened the second half, getting Cal State L.A. back within two points at 35-33. With UCSD leading 48-45 with 13:39 left, the Tritons went on an 8-0 run, backed by two three-pointers from Perry, to take a commanding 56-45 advantage.
CSULA would get no closer than five the rest of the way. A jumper by Kaija Powell with 11 seconds remaining in the game made the score 66-61, but two free throws by Seto closed out the night.
The Tritons out-rebounded the Golden Eagles 45 to 30, including 20 to 12 on the offensive glass. CSULA out-shot UCSD 41 percent to 37 percent.
"It was a great win and we'll be ready to battle tomorrow," said VanDerveer.
UCSD plays at Cal State Dominguez Hills (16-9, 12-9 CCAA) Saturday at 5:30 p.m. to wrap up the regular season. The Toros hosted Cal State San Bernardino Friday and lost by a score of 75-60.