LA JOLLA, Calif. - Emily Osga
scored 18 points and Lauren Freidenberg
finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds as the third-seeded UC San Diego women's basketball team fought off a determined Chico State squad for a 76-71 victory in a California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament First Round matchup on Tuesday evening at RIMAC Arena.
The Tritons withstood a shooting barrage by the visitors in the first half and came back to outscore the Wildcats 36-29 in the second to punch their ticket to the conference tournament semifinals this weekend in Hayward. UCSD scored nine unanswered points early in the second stanza to assume control and defeat Chico State for the third time in as many games this season.
"(The Wildcats) played with incredible passion and fire tonight," head coach Charity Elliott said. "They were shooting the lights out in the first half and we just talked about weathering the storm and kind of getting on a roll ourselves. I think the momentum changed in the first five minutes of the second half and we started taking control of the game."
UCSD improves to 20-10 overall and advances to the CCAA Tournament Semifinals for the third time in four years with the win. The Tritons will take on Cal Poly Pomona on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Cal State East Bay's Pioneer Gymnasium. The second-seeded Broncos defeated No 7 seed Cal State Stanislaus, 77-55, on Tuesday.
Chico State's season comes to an end at 15-12. The Wildcats, who led the CCAA at one point earlier this year, dropped seven of their last eight games to close the season.
A total of five players scored in double figures for the Tritons, who shot just under 45% from the field, including 52% in the decisive second half. Osga finished 8-of-12 from the floor and tallied four rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Freidenberg was 5-of-10 and added two assists and three steals to go with her fifth double-double of the season.
Chelsea Carlisle finished with 13 points, three boards and a game-high nine assists, while Daisy Feder and Erin Dautremont added 10 points apiece off the bench.
Molly Collins was outstanding in a losing effort for the Wildcats, leading all scorers with 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting. She scored 17 first half points, connecting on 7-of-11 from the field in the period. Taylor Lydon added 15 points and four assists for Chico State.
The Wildcats shot a blistering 53% in the opening period and led by as many as eight on three occasions in the half. CSUC sank 6-of-12 from the three-point line, with Lydon hitting 3-of-4 from downtown herself to stake the visitors to a 25-17 lead with 11 minutes remaining.
The Tritons were able to withstand the Wildcats' impressive shooting display though, cutting the deficit to just one at 29-28 following a basket by Feder with eight minutes left in the half. Chico pushed the lead back to six at 38-32, before UCSD closed to within 42-40 at the half.
The Tritons outscored the Wildcats 18-7 to open the second period, scoring nine unanswered points to take a 58-49 lead with 12:45 remaining. Osga scored seven points during the stretch, while Feder capped things off with a layup and big three to force Chico into a timeout.
UCSD took its biggest lead at 69-59 following a pair of free throws from Freidenberg with 5:38 remaining, but the visitors refused to roll over, scoring the next six points to pull within four with 2:10 left.
Osga followed with a huge bucket on a nice feed from Freidenberg, but back-to-back threes from Collins and Lydon in the final minute cut the Tritons' advantage to just two at 73-71 with 14 second left. It was too little too late though, as Carlisle was fouled intentionally on UCSD's next trip and calmly sank both at the line to seal the win.
Osga and Freidenberg combined to score 21 points in the second half to lead the Triton offense, while UCSD's defense held Chico State to just 31% shooting in the period.
The Tritons will be seeking their first win over Cal Poly Pomona this season on Friday after losing both regular season matchups with the Broncos. Pomona, which snapped UCSD's eight-game winning streak last Thursday, became the first team to sweep a regular season series from the Tritons since Humboldt State did it in 2007-08.
"I was fired up when I heard that we were going to be playing Pomona," Freidenberg said. "They're a great team so it will definitely be another battle."