HAYWARD, Calif. -
It's been said that it's hard to defeat a team three times in one season. For the UC San Diego women's basketball team, the old adage refused to hold up on Friday.
Cal Poly Pomona's Reyana Colson scored a game-high 26 points and Megan Ford finished with 20 to lead the second-seeded Broncos to a 78-75 come-from-behind victory over the third-seeded Tritons in the semifinals of the 2011 California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship Tournament at Cal State East Bay's Pioneer Gym.
UCSD held a 13-point lead with 12 and a half minutes left to play, but Pomona answered with a crushing 30-12 run over the next 10 minutes to take control and end the Tritons' hopes for a first CCAA Tournament title. UCSD fell to Pomona for the second time in eight days and dropped to 0-3 against the Broncos this season.
Cal Poly Pomona, which shot a ridiculous 56.7% in the decisive second half, improves to 24-4 and advances to Saturday's CCAA Tournament Championship game. The Broncos will take on No. 1 seed Cal State Monterey Bay at 7:30 p.m.
The Otters knocked off No. 4 seed Cal State San Bernardino, 60-58, in the second semifinal matchup of the day.
UCSD falls to 20-11 overall, losing in the conference tournament semifinals for the second year in row. The Tritons' season is likely over as they were on the outside of the NCAA West Regional playoff picture looking in at No. 9 entering play this weekend.
"We played really hard tonight and controlled the game for a while," head coach Charity Elliott said. "We just didn't get the stops we needed to and we gave them too many extra possessions and that really hurt us. I'm really proud of our heart and effort, we just didn't get it done."
Lauren Freidenberg finished with 19 points and eight rebounds for UCSD, while Chelsea Carlisle tallied 17 points and five assists. Megan Perry and Daisy Feder scored 10 points apiece.
The Tritons shot 48.3% for the game - including an even 50% in the second stanza - but it wasn't enough to fend off the Broncos. Pomona finished 47.5% from the field and held a 37-27 rebounding advantage. The Broncos grabbed 17 offensive boards and outscored UCSD 20-12 off the bench.
Colson, who was named the CCAA Most Valuable Player on Wednesday, was 11-of-22 from the field, scoring 15 of her 26 points in the second half to lead the Bronco comeback. Ford was also instrumental in the rally, scoring 14 points after halftime.
Sarah Semenero finished with 12 points for Pomona, while J.J. Judge chipped in with 11.
UCSD was in control for much of the first half, using a 12-2 run to grab a 27-11 lead with 5:07 left in the period. Feder sank a three and Carlisle converted a jumper to cap off the run.
CPP came right back though, closing the half on a 15-7 spurt to pull within 34-31 at halftime. Judge dropped three triples for the Broncos during the run, while Colson hit a pair of big jumpers.
The Tritons came out swinging in the second half, outscoring the Broncos 21-11 over the first seven minutes of the period. A Carlisle jumper and an Erin Grady three-pointer gave UCSD a 46-35 advantage and consecutive buckets from Freidenberg translated into the Tritons' biggest lead of the evening at 55-42 with 12:23 remaining.
Pomona would score the next nine points to pull within four, but Carlisle hit a three and Emily Osga sank a baseline jumper to stem the tide and put UCSD back in front by nine at 60-51. The Broncos continued to chip away at the lead, however, tying the game at 64 on two free throws from Judge with 7:22 left.
Ford hit two at the line to give CPP a 68-66 advantage three minutes later and UCSD was unable to recapture the lead the rest of the way. The Broncos led 76-71 with just 26 seconds left when Carlisle and Perry hit jumpers to bring the Tritons to within one, but Ford hit two more free throws and Carlisle's potential game-tying three missed the mark at the buzzer.
The Tritons are now 4-4 in all-time in CCAA Tournament play, failing to reach the conference title game for the third year in a row. UCSD advanced to the finals in 2007-08, but came up short against Chico State, 69-63.
The Broncos defeated the Tritons on February 24 in Pomona, recording a 60-51 victory during the final weekend of the regular season.