Trailing by as many as 10 points in the second half, No. 3 seed UC San Diego rallied to within two in the final minutes, but ultimately lost a 52-49 decision to No. 2 Alaska Anchorage in the NCAA Division II West Regional Semifinals Saturday night at Royal Brougham Pavilion. Freshman guard Chelsea Carlisle
finished with game-highs of 16 points and four assists for UCSD, while senior center Alexis Gaskin
tallied 11 points and seven rebounds in her final game as a Triton.
UCSD, which made its fourth straight NCAA Championship appearance and fifth overall since joining the D-II ranks, finishes its season at 27-5. The Tritons defeated CCAA rival Cal State Dominguez Hills 66-65 in the first round on Friday. Alaska Anchorage improves to 29-3 overall in 2008-09 and will advance to face the winner of top-seeded Seattle Pacific and No. 4 seed Humboldt State for the West Regional Championship on Monday night.
“I thought both teams really left it all out on the floor tonight and it was a shame that one of us had to lose,” head coach Charity Elliott
said. “We knew Alaska was a very talented team and if we hit a few more shots down the stretch, our season would have continued. I could not be more proud of a team than I am of this one right now.”
The Seawolves led 47-37 with 8:01 remaining when Gaskin hit a jumper to spark an 8-0 Triton run over the next three and a half minutes. Carlisle came up with a big steal and converted on the other end during the surge and Leilani Martin
capped it off with a three-point play to cut the deficit to 47-45 with 4:30 left to play.
UAA pushed the lead back to four following two free throws from Ruby Williams, but Annette Ilg
found Gaskin for an easy basket the next trip, as UCSD closed to within two once again, 49-47. Rebecca Kielpinski then hit a jumper for Anchorage and Martin scored for the Tritons to make it 51-49 with a little more than two minutes left.
After Gaskin came up with a block of the Seawolves’ Kiki Taylor, Martin missed a potential game-tying jumper with 1:13 remaining. The Tritons had another shot following a turnover by Kielpinski, but Michelle Osier
’s jumper with 19 seconds left missed the mark and UAA corralled the defense rebound.
Taylor missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving UCSD one more chance, but the Tritons’ attempt at the equalizer came up dry again. Nikki Aden hit one of two at the line to make it 52-49 with two seconds left and Annette Ilg
’s three-quarter court heave fell short, sealing the victory for the Seawolves.
Carlisle hit 6-of-9 shots from the field, including 4-of-6 from the three-point arc to pace the Tritons for the second straight game and sixth time overall this season. Gaskin finished 5-of-11 from the floor and also tallied two blocks and two steals. Martin finished with eight points, seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
Osier, the Daktronics West Region Player of the Year, shot just 2-of-17 from the field and finished with five points. The senior forward hauled in seven boards and recorded three steals. She wraps up her career as UCSD's all-time leader in rebounds (1,185) and steals (318) and is the school's second-leading scorer with a total of 1,749 career points.
Kielpinski, who was selected as the Great Northwest Atlantic Conference Player of the Year and joined Osier on the West Region first team, finished with 14 points and nine rebounds to lead the Seawolves. Taylor scored 10 and dished out three assists.
UCSD was the better team coming out of the gates, taking a 15-8 advantage on Carlisle’s second triple with 8:10 gone in the first half. UAA responded with eight unanswered points, however, taking a 16-15 lead on layup by Hanna Johansson with 6:48 remaining in the period.
Johansson’s basket with 26 seconds left gave the Seawolves a 25-22 advantage at the break.
Anchorage scored the first two baskets of the second half, before back-to-back threes from Carlisle and Osier cut the deficit to 31-28 with 17:22 remaining. UCSD closed to within 35-33 on a Gaskin jumper before a 10-2 UAA run gave the Seawolves a 45-35 cushion with 9:45 left to play.
UCSD shot just 33% (20-61) for the game, while Anchorage finished at 44% (22-50). The Seawolves held a 39-35 rebounding advantage and outscored the Tritons 30-22 in the paint.