UCSD's Season Ends in First Round of NCAA Tournament

Briana Hinga had 16 points and 14 rebounds in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.
Briana Hinga had 16 points and 14 rebounds in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.
Courtesy: Jimmy Gekas/Sideline Studios

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Guard Mandy Wood had a team-high 16 points, including a critical 3-pointer with 1:14 to play, helping Seattle Pacific University defeat UC San Diego, 62-57, in opening-round action Friday at the West Regional of the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball National Tournament on Haggen Court at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the Western Washington University campus.


The Falcons, the No.5 seed in the region, improved to 23-5 with the victory. UC San Diego, the fourth seed, finished the season 23-5.  Guard Leora Juster, the California Collegiate Athletic Association Player of the Year, scored a game-high 21 points for the Tritons while adding a game-high seven assists.


Seattle Pacific never trailed in the second half, but the score was tied five times, the last at 46-46 with 4:42 to play, and neither team scored more than five consecutive points in any stretch after halftime.


The Falcons led by just one, 55-54, after UC San Diego guard Kim Buffum hit a 3-pointer with 1:40 to go, but Wood responded at the other end, nailing a 3-pointer of her own near the end of the shot clock that put Seattle Pacific up by four, 58-54, with 1:14 left.


The Tritons never had a potential game-tying possession after that.


Center Brittney Kroon had 12 points and eight rebounds for Seattle Pacific.  Forward Carli Grant had 11 points and nine rebounds, and forward Rachel Strand added 11 points off the bench, hitting 4-of-5 shots from the field.


Center Briana Hinga had 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds for UC San Diego.

Both teams shot poorly in the opening half, with the Falcons hitting 29.0 percent (9-of-31) from the field and the Tritons 24.3 percent (9-of-37).  Seattle Pacific scored five of the last six points in the period and held a 25-21 lead at halftime.


The Falcons meet the winner of No.8 Northwest Nazarene vs. No.1 Western Washington in a semifinal game at 7 p.m. Saturday.