Photo by: Derrick Tuskan
Freshman Brianna Claros and the Tritons head to the Bay Area for two games this week.

Claros, No. 2 Tritons Head to Bay Area in Search of Fourth-Straight CCAA Crown

UC San Diego

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LA JOLLA, Calif. — If you look toward the Tritons’ bench prior to pregame introductions, you might see a quick, subtle dance that energizes the team.

It’s become a constant theme in 22-consecutive victories this season for the No. 2-ranked University of California San Diego women’s basketball team, so there’s a good chance freshman Brianna Claros won’t stop doing her pregame ritual any time soon.

“I don’t know how it started, I just randomly did it once,” Claros said following Tuesday’s practice. “It’s just a way to get myself energized, get people around me energized and let people laugh a little bit. 

“Sometimes people get too serious, so I like to get them going.”

Claros has been a key to more than just pregame routines this season, as the freshman guard has appeared in all 22 games off the bench averaging 25 minutes per contest. 

The San Francisco native still hasn’t suffered a loss on the collegiate level, and looks to keep the streak going as the Tritons head to the Bay Area this week in search of their fourth-straight California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) regular-season championship.

UC San Diego (22-0, 18-0 CCAA) plays at Sonoma State on Feb. 21, and will be back in her and senior Joleen Yang’s hometown to take on San Francisco State on Feb. 23.

“I’m super excited to see my family and just be close to home again,” said Claros. “There’s so many things to love about San Francisco and so many different aspects to it. Every now and then I’ll play tourist in my own city.”

However, Claros said it’s been a surprisingly smooth first season on campus and away from home.

“I didn’t expect it to be as fluid as it is,” she said. “I expected to be more homesick.

“It’s been amazing. Coming into a winning program and remembering everyone in the past who has built this program to what it is. I have to put in the work they’ve put in and continue to keep this program going.”

The bigger challenge has come on the court, as Claros transformed from an admittedly shy player into a floor general in the matter of months.

Claros ranks 18thin the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, tallying 2.42 assists to every turnover. The freshman is averaging nearly five assists per game over the last five contests, and credits her teammates for making her feel more comfortable on and off the court.

“They help me out a lot,” she said. “They put so much confidence in me and have a lot of trust in me, and that means a lot, especially as a freshman point guard. They trust me with the ball and trust me to get them the ball.

“At the beginning I was little nervous, a little shy. It’s hard being a shy point guard because you have to be the general out there on the floor. Now that I’ve spent more time with everyone, I’m a lot more comfortable talking to them and using my voice to direct the team.”

Claros intends to major in human biology and work toward a career in physical therapy. The main reason is to continue working in sports, learn more about athlete’s injuries and the ability to assist them on the path to recovery.

But for this week on the court, it’s business as usual.

“For us, it’s just another game,” Claros said. “We look at who’s in front of us at the moment, their personnel and what we have to do to make sure we get the win and get better in the process.”

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THE SCHEDULE .
Game 23
at Sonoma State (10-12, 8-8 CCAA)
Thursday, Feb. 14 • 5:30 p.m.
The Wolves' Den • Rohnert Park
Watch • Live Stats • Tickets

Game 24
at San Francisco State (9-14, 8-10 CCAA)
Saturday, Feb. 16 • 5:30 p.m.
The Swamp • San Francisco
Watch • Live Stats • Tickets

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ABOUT UC SAN DIEGO
Roster | Schedule | Statistics
• Overall: 22-0 
• CCAA: 18-0 
• Home: 9-0 
• Away: 10-0
• Neutral: 3-0 
• Highest National Ranking (WBCA): 2nd
• Against Nationally-Ranked Teams: -
• WBCA Coaches Poll (Feb. 19) : 2
• D2SIDA Media National Poll (Feb. 19): 2
• CCAA Standings: 1st

UCSD

TRITON NOTES

  • UC San Diego is one of only two remaining undefeated teams in the nation, and is ranked No. 2 in the WBCA Top 25 Coaches' Poll for the fourth-consecutive week. 
  • The Tritons have begun the season 22-0, the program's best start since 2011-12. The Tritons won 26-straight games to begin that season.
  • UC San Diego has won 32-consecutive regular-season contests dating back to last season. It is the longest regular-season winning streak in program history. 
  • The Tritons have won 28-straight CCAA regular-season contests and 42 of their last 43 in conference play.
  • Senior guard Joleen Yang scored 22 points on 9-of13 shooting from the field, including four 3-pointers, in the Tritons' 89-70 home win over Cal State Dominguez Hills on Feb. 14.
  • Junior forward Mikayla Williams scored a team-high 19 points along with 10 rebounds in a home victory against Cal State LA on Feb. 16. 
  • Junior guard Sydney Sharp continued her hot shooting last week, averaging 15 points in two wins while shooting 50 percent (8-of-16) from 3-point range.
  • UC San Diego averages 79.9 points per game, which ranks 11th in the nation.
  • The Tritons rank sixth in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.35) and have the 13th-fewest turnovers per contest (12.7).
  • UC San Diego is making an average of 9.0 3-point field goals per game, which is tied for 12th nationally. In addition, the Tritons' 35.5 3-point field-goal percentage now ranks 39th nationally.
  • The Tritons rank 20th in the nation in rebounds per contest at 43.2 a game.
  • UC San Diego is outscoring opponents by an average of 17.4 points per game, which ranks 16th in the nation.
  • The Tritons’ 17.1 assists per game rank 15th in the country.
  • UC San Diego's 190 made 3-pointers has just broken into the top-50 nationally at No. 47. The Tritons' 535 3-pointers attempted is third fewest of any team in the top 50 makes.
  • Williams is averaging 19.8 points per game this season, which ranks 22nd in the nation. The junior forward is also 25th in rebounds per game (10.6), 19th in field-goal percentage (57.0) and her 11 double-doubles this season are tied for 32nd-most nationally.
  • Junior forward Haleigh Hatfield is tied for 23rd in the country in rebounding, averaging 10.8 per contest.
  • Freshman guard Brianna Claros ranks 18th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.42).

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UC SAN DIEGO ROSTER BREAKDOWN
(2017-18 stats listed)
PROBABLE TRITON STARTERS 
G - #13 Joleen Yang (Sr., 5-6, 2017-18 All-CCAA Honorable Mention) 9.4 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.6 APG 
G - #22 Sydney Sharp (Jr., 5-10) 6.0 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1.0 APG
G - #21 Kayla Sato (Sr., 5-8, 2017-18 All-CCAA Second Team) 13.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.9 APG
F - #10 Haleigh Hatfield (Jr., 6-1, Transfer from High Point University)
F - #33 Mikayla Williams (So., 6-1, 2017-18 All-CCAA First Team) 15.0 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.2 APG

Starters Returning (3)
• #13 Joleen Yang (Sr., 5-6): 9.4 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.6 APG
• #21 Kayla Sato (Sr., 5-8): 13.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.9 APG 
• #33 Mikayla Williams (Jr., 6-1): 15.0 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.2 APG

Starters Lost (2)
Dalayna Sampton (F, 6-1, 2017-18 CCAA Player of the Year): 14.6 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 1.3 APG
Taylor Tanita (G, 5-4, 2017-18 All-CCAA Honorable Mention): 5.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5.9 APG

Other Letterwinners Returning (3)
• #40 Shandiin Armao (F, Sr., 5-10): 4.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 0.4 APG
• #14 Stephanie Moore (G/F, Jr., 5-10): 1.5 PPG, 0.4 RPG, 0.9 APG     
• #30 Layla Ybarra-Harvey (F, RSo., 6-1): 0.6 PPG, 0.4 RPG, 0.0 APG

Other Letterwinners Lost (4)
Marcella Hughes (G, Jr., 5-5): 4.3 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 1.0 APG
Paige Song (G, Sr., 5-9): 2.6 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 1.0 APG
Rebecca Williams (G, Jr., 6-1): 2.5 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.5 APG
Kristen Vrcelj (G, So., 5-10): 0.6 PPG, 0.4 RPG, 0.0 APG

Newcomers (5)
• #12 Madison Baxter (G, Fr., 5-9)
• #15 Brianna Claros (G, Fr., 5-5)
• #24 Kendal Ellenbeck (G, Fr., 6-0)
• #10 Haleigh Hatfield (F, Jr., 6-1)
• #11 Julia Macabuhay (G, Fr., 5-6)

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BIG WEST BOUND
On Nov. 27, 2017 UC San Diego was officially invited to become a member of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference. The Tritons will begin a four-year reclassification period starting in the fall of 2020. They will play a full Big West schedule that season and will be eligible for NCAA Championships in men's volleyball, men's and women's water polo and fencing. For the 2024-25 academic year, all sports will be eligible to compete in Big West and NCAA Division I championships. For more information, check out our full Big West Bound page here.

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CCAA STANDINGS
(through 2/19)
1. UC San Diego 18-0, 22-0 

2. Cal Poly Pomona 16-3, 20-4
3. Humboldt State 13-5, 15-6
4. Cal State San Marcos 10-8, 13-9
5. Chico State 9-9, 12-9
6. Cal State East Bay 9-10, 12-13
7. Cal State San Bernardino 9-11, 10-14
8. Cal State Dominguez Hills 8-10, 12-12
9. Sonoma State 8-10, 10-11
10. San Francisco State 8-10, 9-14
11. Stanislaus State 6-12, 7-15
12. Cal State LA 5-14, 8-15
13. Cal State Monterey Bay 1-18, 1-21

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WBCA COACHES POLL
(Feb. 19 - Week 13)
1. Drury (24-0) 
2. UC San Diego (22-0)*
3. Indiana (Pa.) (21-1)
4. Fort Hays State (23-1)
5. University of the Sciences (24-1)
6. Union (Tenn.) (25-1)
7. Northwest Nazarene (23-1)*
8. Thomas Jefferson University (23-1)
9. Alaska Anchorage (23-1)*
10. Ashland (23-2)
11. Grand Valley State (23-2)
12. Southwest Oklahoma State (23-1)
13. Virginia Union (22-2)
14. Bentley (23-2)
15. Lewis (22-2)
16. Anderson (S.C.) (23-2)
17. West Texas A&M (21-3)
T-18. California (Pa.) (20-3)
T-18. Florida Southern (21-3)
20. Lubbock Christian (21-4) 
21. Glenville State (22-2)
22. Colorado Mesa (20-3)
23. Angelo State (18-4) 
24. Central Missouri (18-5)
25. Azusa Pacific (20-4)

* - NCAA West Region team

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UC SAN DIEGO IN THE WBCA POLL
• Preseason Poll: RV
• Week 1 Poll: 17
• Week 2 Poll: 14
• Week 3 Poll: 12
• Week 4 Poll: 10
• Week 5 Poll: 10
• Week 6 Poll: 9
• Week 7 Poll: 6
• Week 8 Poll: 5
• Week 9 Poll: 4
• Week 10 Poll: 2
• Week 11 Poll: 2
• Week 12 Poll: 2
• Week 13 Poll: 2

UC SAN DIEGO IN THE D2SIDA NATIONAL MEDIA POLL
• Preseason Poll: RV
• Week 1 Poll: 21
• Week 2 Poll: 19
• Week 3 Poll: 12
• Week 4 Poll: 9
• Week 5 Poll: 9
• Week 6 Poll: 9
• Week 7 Poll: 8
• Week 8 Poll: 7
• Week 9 Poll: 5
• Week 10 Poll: 3
• Week 11 Poll: 3
• Week 12 Poll: 2
• Week 13 Poll: 2

D2SIDA WEST REGION POLL
(Feb. 11 - Week 11) (First-place votes)
1. UC San Diego (6)
2. Northwest Nazarene 
3. Alaska Anchorage  
4. Cal Poly Pomona
5. Dominican 
6. Azusa Pacific
7. Humboldt State
8. Simon Fraser
9. Central Washington
10. Hawai'i Pacific
T-10. Chico State

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ABOUT SONOMA STATE
Roster | Schedule | Statistics 
• Overall: 10-11 
• CCAA: 8-10 
• Home: 4-5 
• Away: 6-6
• Neutral: 0-0
• Highest National Ranking: NR

ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO STATE
Roster | Schedule | Statistics 
• Overall: 9-14 
• CCAA: 8-10 
• Home: 4-8
• Away: 5-6 
• Neutral: 0-0 
• Highest National Ranking: NR

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CCAA PRESEASON COACHES POLL
Rank         School                            Points (First-place votes)
1.             UC San Diego                   144 (12)
2.             Cal Poly Pomona              114
3.             Cal State East Bay.           111 (1)
4.             Chico State.                       100
5.             Cal State LA.                      96
6.             Humboldt State.                  93
7.             Cal State Dominguez Hills  89
8.             Cal State San Marcos         67
9.             Sonoma State                     57
10.           Stanislaus State                  54
11.           Cal State San Bernardino    50
12.           Cal State Monterey Bay       21
13.           San Francisco State            18

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2017-18 HIGHLIGHTS
UC San Diego won the CCAA regular-season championship for the third-consecutive season in 2017-18, matching a program and conference-best 21-1 record in CCAA play. The Tritons finished a perfect 11-0 on the road in CCAA games last year, with winning streaks of 11 and 10 in a row during the season. Forward Dalayna Sampton was named CCAA Player of the Year and earned Division 2 Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) All-West Region First-Team honors, while head coach Heidi VanDerveer was named CCAA Coach of the Year for the third-straight season and garnered Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Region 8 Coach of the Year accolades. In addition, returning forward Mikayla Williams was an All-CCAA First-Team and D2CCA All-West Region Second-Team selection, while returning guard Kayla Sato was named to the All-CCAA Second Team as well as the CCAA All-Tournament Team. 

FINAL 2017-18 CCAA STANDINGS
1. UC San Diego, 21-1*
2. Cal Poly Pomona, 16-6
3. Humboldt State, 14-8^ 
4. Chico State, 14-8
5. Cal State LA, 13-9 
6. Cal State East Bay, 12-10 
7. Cal State Dominguez Hills, 11-11 
8. Sonoma State, 9-13 
9. Cal State San Bernardino, 9-13
10. Stanislaus State, 8-14 
11. Cal State San Marcos, 8-14 
12. Cal State Monterey Bay, 5-17 
13. San Francisco State, 3-19

* CCAA regular-season champion
^ CCAA Tournament champion

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HEAD COACH HEIDI VANDERVEER
A former WNBA coach, Olympic team scout and assistant for the legendary Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee, VanDerveer enters her seventh season as UC San Diego head coach in 2018-19. VanDerveer was named California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Coach of the Year for the third-consecutive season in 2017-18, guiding the Tritons to a 28-5 overall record and 21-1 mark in conference play. She also earned Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) NCAA Division II District 8 Coach of the Year honors. UC San Diego won the CCAA regular-season championship for the third-straight year in 2017-18, making its third-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. For VanDerveer’s complete bio, click here.

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GEAR HERE
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FOR THE YOUNGER CROWD
Got some young Triton fans in your family? If they are eighth grade or under, check out the Junior Triton Club. Membership includes a free t-shirt, admission to over 100 UC San Diego home athletic events, and much more!

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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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For complete coverage and information regarding UC San Diego Athletics, follow the Tritons online at UCSDtritons.com and through social media on Twitter (@ucsdtritons), Instagram (@ucsdtritons) and Facebook (ucsdtritons). In addition, you can follow Tritons women's basketball on Twitter (@ucsdwbb) and Instagram (@ucsdwbb).

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