LA JOLLA, Calif. - Top-seeded and 19th-ranked UC San Diego used a strong inside game to defeat California Baptist, 84-80, in an NCAA Division II West Regional semifinal Saturday night at RIMAC Arena.
UCSD (27-5) will take on Chico State, the tournament's sixth seed, Monday at 7 p.m. for the West Region championship. The winner advances to the Elite Eight, March 22-25 in Sioux City, S.D.
Just a night removed from netting 17 three-pointers, the Tritons switched gears and scored 46 points in the paint. Four players hit double-digit point totals including CCAA Player of the Year Adam Klie (22), George Buaku (17), Chris Hansen (17) and Aleks Lipovic (12). Klie was 10-for-14 from the field and added six rebounds and four assists.
UC San Diego shot 53.7 percent (29-54) overall. It made five of 15 three-point attempts and went 21-for-36 from the free throw line.
Fourth-seeded CBU (26-5), ranked 13th nationally, was led by PacWest Player of the Year Michael Smith, who totaled a game-high 39 points. He was 11-for-18 overall with five three pointers while hitting 12 of his 17 free throw attempts. Kalidou Diouf recorded a double-double with 12 points and a game-best 10 rebounds.
CBU, which led 38-36 at halftime, shot 44.7 percent (21-47) and hit 10 of its 20 three-point shots. The Lancers went 28-for-36 from the charity stripe.
A Smith layup with just 21 seconds left in the game got California Baptist within a point at 81-80. UCSD was then fouled and made one of two free throws. The Lancers turned the ball over on their possession and Anthony Ballestero made two free throws with seven ticks left to seal the win for the Tritons.
Chico State (25-7) earned its way into Monday's championship game with a 77-74 victory against second-seeded and fourth-ranked Hawaii Pacific in Saturday's early semifinal.
UCSD and Chico State have met three times this season with the Tritons winning two of those, including a victory in a California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament semifinal.
It is the second straight year that UC San Diego will play for the West Region title.
Ticket information for Monday night's game is available on the tournament central page.