BELLINGHAM, Wash. - A late run by Grand Canyon put an end to the UC San Diego women's basketball team's season Saturday as the Tritons were defeated, 68-57, in a NCAA West Regional quarterfinal at Carver Gym on the campus of Western Washington.
Third-seeded UCSD concluded its campaign at 22-11. Grand Canyon, the sixth seed, improved to 23-8 and will face second-seeded Simon Fraser in a regional semifinal Monday. The Clan defeated Northwest Nazarene, the seventh seed, in Saturday's second quarterfinal.
The game was extremely tight as it featured 11 tie scores with neither team holding more than a five-point lead through the first 37 minutes.
"I thought that we really competed against a very good Grand Canyon team," said first-year UCSD head coach Heidi VanDerveer. "We gave ourselves a really good shot for the first 35 minutes and then down the stretch, we had some uncharacteristic turnovers that really cost us."
The Tritons, who were making their eighth NCAA postseason appearance since 2004, went up by a point, 49-48, when Daisy Feder, the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Most Valuable Player, nailed a three-pointer with 5:47 remaining in the game. However, it would be UCSD's last lead.
Chigozie Ekweozor made a layup during the Antelopes' next possession, putting her team ahead, 50-49, and kicking off an 11-point run that UCSD could not recover from. Judy Jones, who finished with game-highs of 24 points and 12 rebounds, scored back-to-back baskets, the second coming on a fast break turnover conversion. Maylinn Smith drilled a trey and then made two free throws to close the run and give GCU a 10-point lead, 59-49, with just over two minutes left.
The Tritons managed to close the gap to six points, 60-54, when Feder netted a three at 1:28, but that would be as close as they would get. The 'Lopes scored the game's next seven points, all on free throws, and went up by 13, their largest lead of the game, with only 27 seconds remaining.
UCSD turned the ball over 15 times in the contest, eight of those coming during a crucial span between the 9:56 and 1:58 marks of the second half.
The Tritons shot 37.5 percent in both halves, while the Antelopes finished at 41.5 percent, including a 48.1 percent clip in the opening half. A clear size difference on the court helped GCU to a 41-30 advantage in rebounding, 18-10 on the offensive glass.
"They posed some problems for us as they are extremely big and very athletic," said VanDerveer.
Seven of the 11 ties occurred in the first half. UCSD took its first lead of the game, 14-12, with a bucket by junior forward Erin Dautremont at 14:12. A layup by senior guard Emily Osga with 9:16 left in the first period put the Tritons up by four, 21-17, their largest lead of the afternoon.
The final knot of the first half came at 2:37 when Osga hit her lone three of the game to even the score at 33-33. Grand Canyon went on to score the last four points of the half on free throws to take a 37-33 lead into the break.
GCU went to the free throw line 33 times in the game, making just 20.
Dautremont led UCSD in scoring with 21 points and was followed closely by Feder with 20. The MVP of last week's CCAA Tournament, Dautremont also had a team-high six rebounds while adding three assists. Feder, a senior guard, sunk a game-high four three-pointers. Osga and point guard Miranda Seto each totaled seven points and four assists, with Seto also contributing four steals.
Justine Johnson also hit double figures in points, finishing with 18 for Grand Canyon. Eight of Jones' 12 rebounds were offensive as she recorded the 19th double-double of her season. The Antelopes had 11 steals as four players had more than one each.
"We had some rough games down the stretch that felt like maybe we should have won, but just didn't," said Grand Canyon head coach Trent May. "So I'm really happy for them, not just as student-athletes, but for the people they are. Their hard work paid off today."
UCSD and Grand Canyon had already met once this season. The Antelopes took a narrow, 64-62, victory back in November at the Disney Tip-Off Classic in Anaheim, Calif.
The Tritons are now 8-8 in NCAA Division II postseason games.
"I could not be more proud of a team that has really come full circle from the beginning of the year," said VanDerveer. "They really came together and played hard, with and for each other. They competed until the very end. We have had a lot of individual improvement that has led to collective improvement throughout the year. We have also learned to trust each other, and when a team trusts each other, you give yourself a chance. This team really believes in each other and they want to play together."
In Saturday's late quarterfinals, No. 5 Cal State Monterey Bay beat No. 4 Chico State and No. 1 Western Washington defeated No. 8 Academy of Art.
-- UCSDtritons.com --