LA JOLLA, Calif. - The top-seeded UC San Diego Tritons turned in an impressive performance in front of an electric home crowd to rout Western Washington, 78-45, in a quarterfinal game of the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball West Regional Championship at RIMAC Arena on the campus of UC San Diego.
With the win, the Tritons improved to 24-4 overall and will face Alaska Anchorage in a semifinal game on Saturday. UAA edged Cal State Dominguez Hills, 49-48, earlier this evening.
The Tritons – champions of the California Collegiate Athletic Association -- had control of the contest throughout and led by as many as 38 points with four minutes to go. The win was UCSD’s first postseason victory at the Division II level.
Leora Juster led all players with 23 points. Michelle Osier scored 15 points with 10 rebounds and Hillary Hansen also chipped in 15 and grabbed eight boards. Kacie Kostlan tied a UCSD record with 14 assists — 10 came in the first half.
Western Washington (18-10) is eliminated in the first round of the tournament for just the second time in nine consecutive appearances. Mollie Stelmack led the Vikings with 12 points while Mackenzie Flynn added nine.
Things were working on both sides of the ball for UC San Diego early in the contest. Offensively, the Tritons scored at will inside and out with 28 points from inside the paint. UCSD also forced the Vikings to commit 17 turnovers and scored 24 points off of those WWU miscues in the first half.
The Tritons quickly built a double-digit lead minutes into the contest that grew into a 27-point, 43-16, advantage when Osier scored on a lay-up with 57 seconds left in the half. By the time UCSD took a 46-21 lead into the break, Juster had already scored 17 points and Meaghan Noud added 10.
The winner of the regional will advance to the Division II Women's Basketball Elite Eight, set for March 21-24 in Kearney, Nebraska. The West Region champion will face the winner of the East Region.