LA JOLLA, Calif. - A day after having its nine-game winning streak snapped, the UC San Diego women's basketball team defeated Cal State Monterey Bay, 56-44, to climb back into a tie with Chico State for the best conference record at RIMAC Arena on Saturday.
The Tritons improve to 18-9 overall and 16-4 against California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) foes. UCSD will host ninth-place Sonoma State (9-15, 7-13 CCAA) on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. to begin its final weekend of the regular season.
Senior guard Emily Osga not only led all scorers with 22 points, she had twice as many points as the next-highest scorer. The San Diego native also had eight rebounds and a share of the game-high three steals.
Senior forward Brittani Jefferson paced the Otters with her double-double performance of 11 points and 10 rebounds. Jefferson additionally had one block.
Better shooting from all areas of the court yielded the Tritons their victory against the Otters. UCSD went 18-for-50 (36%) from the field for the game, which included a 10-for-23 (43.5%) effort in the second half. In comparison, CSUMB hit only 16 of 62 (25.8%) in the paint for the game and only eight of 34 (23.5%) in the closing frame. The Tritons also made 15 free throws in all while the Otters made eight.
UCSD's win did not come easily though. Entering the second half with a 23-20 lead, the Tritons saw their three-point lead turn into a two-point deficit when the Otters scored five straight unanswered points to begin the half.
Undaunted by the Otters' offensive surge, senior guard Daisy Feder sank a pair of free throws to tie the game, 25-25, with 16:32 left in the game. On the next possession with the score unchanged, Osga drilled a three-pointer to reclaim the lead for the Tritons, 28-25, at the 16:04 mark as part of a 13-0 run. Osga capped the run on a jumper with 12:02 to go in regulation to give UCSD a double-digit lead of 36-25.
However, an 8-0 run by the Otters shrank the Tritons' lead to a point, 41-40, after junior guard Holly Holcomb's trey closed the span with 5:50 left in the game. But back-to-back clutch jumpers from Osga not only returned the lead back to a five-point, 45-40 advantage for the Tritons, they also gave UCSD all the points it needed to earn the victory.
The first half proved to be a low-scoring affair, showcasing two of the conference's best defenses. Osga jumpstarted an 8-0 run upon hitting a trey with 12:22 prior to halftime to tie the game at 6-6.
Junior forward Erin Dautremont followed suit on the Tritons' next possession, breaking the tie at the 11:08 mark and presenting the Tritons a 9-6 lead, while junior guard Megan Perry's free throws finished the run with 9:59 before the intermission to put UCSD up, 11-6.
UCSD had its lead trimmed to a point twice before the intermission on layups by sophomore guard Nikki Beckman, but the Tritons retained their handle on the lead and arrived at halftime leading, 23-20.
The Otters, who remain in third place in the conference, drop to 17-6 overall and 14-6 against CCAA teams. CSUMB will commence its final homestand of the regular season at The Kelp Bed, where it will host 12th-place Cal State Stanislaus (2-23, 1-19 CCAA) on Thursday in a game slated to start at 5:30 p.m.
UCSD will host a CCAA Tournament first round game on Tuesday, March 5 at 7 p.m. The conference semifinals and final will be contested at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif., on March 8 and 9. The tournament winner earns an automatic berth in the NCAA Regionals.
-- UCSDtritons.com --