SAN FRANCISCO - With a tense, nerve-racking finale at The Swamp on Friday, the UC San Diego women's basketball team narrowly escaped the Gators of San Francisco State with a 53-51 victory to reach the halfway mark of its road trip.
"We really earned a hard-fought victory tonight. We had different people step up and make plays," said Tritons head coach Heidi VanDerveer. "Our defense helped us tremendously. We made some big plays when we needed to and stuck with it. We had great poise and came away with a big win."
Despite scoring their third-fewest points this season and being outrebounded, 46-38, for the game, the Tritons climb to 10-8 overall and 8-3 in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play. UCSD will continue its time on the road with a game on Saturday against Sonoma State (5-10, 3-8 CCAA), set to go off at 5:30 p.m.
Junior forward Erin Dautremont led all scorers with 20 points to go along with seven rebounds, one assist and a block. She was supported by senior guard Daisy Feder, who contributed 15 points in addition to seven rebounds, a game-high five assists and two steals.
Senior guard Nicole Hicks paced the Gators with her 13 points to go along with six rebounds, one block and a steal while junior guard Angela Van Sickel put up 12 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. In addition, junior forward Lauren Varney tallied eight points as well as a contest-leading 10 rebounds, one assist and a steal.
Neither team shot well during the game, and UCSD barely shot better than the Gators from the field. UCSD went 18-for-52 (34.6%) from the paint and 2-for-14 (14.3%) from the arc during the game while SFSU made 21 of 61 (34.4%) from the field and two of eight (25.0%) attempts from three-point range over the same span. However, the Tritons overcame their shooting woes at the free-throw line, where they made 15 of 24 (62.5%) attempts while the Gators only went 7-for-16 (43.8%).
Starting the second half down by a point, 26-25, Dautremont shot a layup 32 seconds into the closing 20 minutes to give the Tritons the go-ahead bucket, 27-26.
Hicks first tied then put the Gators ahead with her successful free-throw attempts 1:30 after losing the lead to go up, 28-27. However, a layup by Feder at the 18:36 mark returned the lead to the Tritons, 29-28.
With a 32-30 lead, UCSD then went on a 6-0 run. Dautremont kicked the run off with a jumper and a pair of free throws from Feder ended the run with 14:47 left in regulation.
The Tritons had an eight-point lead on three occasions during the second half and last reached that advantage on senior guard Emily Osga's layup with 10:26 to spare in the game, which gave UCSD a 44-36 lead.
SFSU was not finished, however, and the Gators proceeded to chip away at their deficit little by little during the final 10 minutes, eventually shrinking UCSD's 10-point lead into a two-point one when Hicks made the score, 47-45, with a tip-in at the 3:44 mark.
Fortunately, Dautremont answered with five straight UCSD points in the form of a trey on the next possession and a jumper less than a minute later, more than tripling the Tritons' lead back to seven with 2:38 left to play.
Up by three with just over a minute remaining, 52-49, Feder tacked one more point to the Tritons' tally on a free throw. With only 47 seconds to go before the buzzer, Hicks's jumper cut the UCSD lead in half, 53-51.
Just a field goal separated the teams and with only five seconds left, sophomore forward Farrah Shokoor was fouled and went to the line with a chance to send the game into overtime. Shokoor missed both attempts, but junior guard Jennifer Le retrieved the ball but missed the jumper before senior forward Desiree Collins's rebound and subsequent tip-in attempt proved unsuccessful as time expired to give the Tritons their closest win of the season.
The opening 20 minutes proved to be a foreshadow of the second half and a team technical foul charged to the Gators at the game's inception proved to be the deciding factor at its end. With the team technical, Feder converted both of her free throws to commence what would become an 11-2 run to open the game for UCSD, which ended on sophomore forward McKennan Bertsch's layup at the 17:03 mark.
But the Gators started making their shots, going on an 11-2 run of their own to tie the game, 13-13, with 11:28 before halftime.
UCSD was able to keep the lead from changing sides for the majority of the latter first-half minutes, but with a score of 23-23 at the 56-second mark, a layup by Hicks gave the Gators a 25-23 lead.
Down by three after Hicks's free throw, 26-23, junior guard Megan Perry was fouled and sank both of her free throws with 34 seconds prior to the buzzer to bring the Tritons to within a point, 26-25, going into the intermission.
The Gators (8-7, 5-6 CCAA) finish off their homestand on Saturday with a game against Cal State San Bernardino (6-9, 4-7 CCAA), scheduled to tip off at 5:30 p.m.
-- UCSDtritons.com --