LA JOLLA, Calif. — Joleen Yang didn’t even have to think about her favorite memory in four years at UC San Diego.
She’s living it right now.
Times in La Jolla have never been sweeter for the senior guard, as Yang and the No. 2-ranked University of California San Diego women’s basketball team (24-0) attempt to finish off an undefeated regular-season with two home games this week.
“This is a different season,” Yang said following Tuesday’s practice. “The energy is different, the vibe is different.
“In previous years at this point, it kind of felt the season is coming to an end. We knew it could it end soon. But we feel like there’s so much more for us (this season). We expect to play four more weeks.”
Although there will be at least one more guaranteed home game following Saturday’s Senior Night contest against Cal State East Bay, the reality of a final handful of games at RIMAC Arena is beginning to set in.
The Tritons will host a first-round California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament game on their home floor on March 5. There could potentially be three more after that in the NCAA West Regionals, but Yang understands the end is near.
“It’s finally starting to hit me, it’s a little sad,” she said. “But it’s exciting that we put ourselves in a position to have home games later in the season. It will really help us.
“(RIMAC Arena) is a great environment. I obviously love this place and I’ve spent so much time here during my four years. It’s really a special place to play.”
Yang is particularly excited to have her older brother Jaren in attendance for Saturday’s game, as he’s never seen her play at the collegiate level since he attended college on the East Coast outside of Boston.
While most would have to overcome the distraction of having family in town for Senior Night, Yang learned to block it out at an early age. Yang’s father, who was also her youth coach growing up, was very vocal from the stands during her middle-school basketball days.
However, her dad’s role has changed considerably at this stage of her career.
“He’s different now,” Yang said. “When I was young, he felt he knew more than the coach.
“Now, obviously, he doesn’t know more than (head coach) Heidi VanDerveer.”
Aside from renovations and upgrades to RIMAC Arena, Yang said she’s noticed an increase in school-spirit on campus in recent years. A large reason is the upcoming transition to Division I and the Big West Conference in the Fall of 2020, which Yang and the rest of the school’s upper classmen are largely responsible for.
In addition, she acknowledged having substantial individual growth over the past four years.
“This program has really helped me grow, not only as a basketball player, but as a person,” she said. “This year especially, I’ve stepped into a leadership role and it’s really going to help me later in life.
“Even though I won’t be a part of (Division-I athletics), I feel like still played a part in it. It will be cool to come back as an alumna and see us playing Division I.”
A human development major at Sixth College, Yang has a career goal of becoming a physical therapist, where she can assist student-athletes overcome injuries much like the current training staff has done for her.
“Through my four years, I’ve been injured a lot,” she said with a laugh. “The athletic trainers have been really important for my career here. I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do without them. Physical therapy is a way for me to stick around sports and help people stay active.”
But the focus is on the present. For Yang, the remainder of this season will put the finishing touch on her greatest college memory.
That includes attempting to break the program record for best start to a season, which is currently at 26-0 by associate head coach Chelsea Carlisle’s 2011-12 team.
“We don’t really talk about our record or our streak, but we do joke around with (Carlisle) knowing that’s her record and we’re coming for it.
“It’s been awesome, we just have this thing going. We’re kind of rolling on this train and it’s not stopping. Anyone can get in our way and we’re prepared to get past them.”
ABOUT UC SAN DIEGO
Roster | Schedule | Statistics
• Overall: 24-0
• CCAA: 20-0
• Home: 9-0
• Away: 12-0
• Neutral: 3-0
• Highest National Ranking (WBCA): 2nd
• Against Nationally-Ranked Teams: -
• WBCA Coaches Poll (Feb. 26) : 2
• D2SIDA Media National Poll (Feb. 26): 2
• CCAA Standings: 1st
TRITONS CLAIM FOURTH-STRAIGHT CCAA CHAMPIONSHIP!
With a road victory at Sonoma State on Feb. 21, UC San Diego won its fourth-consecutive California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) regular-season championship. It is the ninth regular-season CCAA title in program history, as the Tritons claimed the conference crown outright for the third-straight season. The four titles in a row matches the program's run of four-consecutive championships from 2006-07 to 2009-10, all of which were outright.
MIKAYLA WILLIAMS EARNS GOOGLE CLOUD ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT 8 FIRST-TEAM HONORS
Junior forward Mikayla Williams earned Google Cloud Academic All-District 8 First-Team honors by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) on Feb. 21. It's the second-consecutive season Williams has received the accolade. A native of Meath Park, Sask., Canada, Williams is majoring in public health at Roosevelt College with a 3.89 cumulative grade-point-average.
- With a road victory over Sonoma State on Feb. 21, the Tritons have won the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) regular-season championship for the fourth-consecutive season.
- 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 fifth-straight week.
- The Tritons have begun the season 24-0, the program's best start since 2011-12. The Tritons won 26-straight games to begin that season.
- UC San Diego has won 34-consecutive regular-season contests dating back to last season. It is the longest regular-season winning streak in program history.
- The Tritons have won 30-straight CCAA regular-season contests and 44 of their last 45 in conference play.
- UC San Diego has earned a victory in 14-consecutive contests played at RIMAC Arena and 19 of its last 20
- UC San Diego averages 79.4 points per game, which ranks 11th in the nation.
- The Tritons rank fifth in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.39) and have the 11th-fewest turnovers per contest (12.3).
- UC San Diego averages 17.1 assists per game, which ranks 16th nationally.
- The Tritons are making an average of 9.2 3-point field goals per game, which is 12th in the nation. In addition, the Tritons' 35.9 3-point field-goal percentage now ranks 25th in the country.
- UC San Diego ranks 23rd in the nation in rebounds per contest at 43.2 a game.
- The Tritons are outscoring opponents by an average of 18.0 points per game, which ranks 15th in the nation.
- UC San Diego is tied for 25th in the country with 220 made 3-pointers.
- The Tritons are allowing opponents to shoot just 27.6 percent from 3-point range, which ranks 27 nationally.
- Overall, UC San Diego is holding opponents to just 36.1 percent shooting from the field, good for 29th in the nation.
- Junior forward Mikayla Williams earned CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 First-Team honors on Feb. 21.
- Williams is averaging 20.0 points per game this season, which ranks 19th in the nation. The junior forward is also 25th in rebounds per game (10.6), 22nd in field-goal percentage (55.6) and her 13 double-doubles this season are tied for 23rd-most nationally.
- Junior guard Sydney Sharp's 71 made 3-point field goals this season rank 30th in the country. Sharp's 2.96 made 3-pointers per game ranks 18th in the nation and her 41.8 3-point field-goal percentage is good for 22nd nationally.
- Junior forward Haleigh Hatfield is tied for 21st in the country in rebounding, averaging 10.8 per contest.
- Freshman guard Brianna Claros ranks 19th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.34).
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
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
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.
1. UC San Diego 20-0, 24-0
2. Cal Poly Pomona 17-3, 21-4
3. Humboldt State 15-5, 17-6
4. Cal State San Marcos 15-9, 12-8
5. Cal State East Bay 10-10, 13-13
6. Chico State 9-11, 12-11
7. Cal State Dominguez Hills 9-11, 13-13
8. Cal State San Bernardino 9-12, 10-15
9. Sonoma State 8-12, 10-13
10. San Francisco State 8-12, 9-16
11. Stanislaus State 7-13, 8-16
12. Cal State LA 6-15, 9-16
13. Cal State Monterey Bay 1-19, 1-22
NCAA WEST REGION POLL
(Feb. 20 - Week 1)
1. UC San Diego
2. Northwest Nazarene
3. Alaska Anchorage
4. Azusa Pacific
5. Cal Poly Pomona
6. Simon Fraser
7. Humboldt State
9. Cal State San Marcos
10. Hawai'i Pacific
WBCA COACHES POLL
(Feb. 26 - Week 14)
1. Drury (26-0)
2. UC San Diego (24-0)*
3. Fort Hays State (25-1)
4. University of the Sciences (26-1)
5. Northwest Nazarene (25-1)*
6. Alaska Anchorage (25-1)*
7. Ashland (25-2)
T-8. Grand Valley State (25-2)
8. Indiana (PA) (22-2)
10. Southwestern Oklahoma State (25-1)
11. Union (TN) (25-2)
12. Virginia Union (24-2)
13. Bentley (25-2)
14. Thomas Jefferson University (24-2)
15. Lewis (24-2)
16. Anderson (SC) (24-2)
17. California (PA) (22-3)
18. West Texas A&M (23-3)
19. Florida Southern (23-3)
20. Glenville State (24-2)
21. Colorado Mesa (22-3)
22. Angelo State (20-4)
23. Azusa Pacific (22-4)
24. Central Missouri (20-5)
25. Lubbock Christian (22-5)
* - NCAA West Region team
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
• Week 14 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
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
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
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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FOR THE YOUNGER CROWD
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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.
Follow The Tritons
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).