Photo by: Derrick Tuskan
Senior Shandiin Armao and the Tritons are set for two tough road games this week.

Armao Leads No. 2 Tritons Into Challenges at No. RV Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State San Bernardino

UC San Diego

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LA JOLLA, Calif. — It’s probably the worst, most enjoyable experience imaginable.

When senior forward Shandiin Armao violently dislocated her knee cap long before the first game of the 2018-19 season, it became a first-hand learning experience for the UC San Diego women’s basketball senior forward.

Despite the tough blow to begin her final season with the Tritons, Armao remained intrigued throughout the entire process.

“It was the worst hands-on experience I could ask for because I love that kind of stuff,” said Armao, a human biology major. “I was like, ‘This is so cool, but I really don’t want it to be happening to me.’”

Now back in the lineup and having already appeared in three games this season, Armao looks forward to helping the No. 2-ranked Tritons in any way she can the rest of the way.

As UC San Diego (18-0, 14-0 CCAA) heads into tough road games this week at No. RV Cal Poly Pomona on Feb. 7 and Cal State San Bernardino on Feb. 9, the Winslow, Ariz., native is just happy be back in uniform with her teammates.

“It’s really nice to be able to put all that hard work I did off the court and apply it with everybody else,” she said. “It’s definitely a challenge having to pick up where I left off, but I have so much support around me.

"When you get (on the court) and have people cheering for you and getting excited with you, it makes it all worth it.”

Jumping back into action midway through the season hasn’t been an easy task, however.

“When you’re on a team that’s 18-0, everybody has a feel for each other,” Armao explained. “Getting back into the game and fitting into the pace and chemistry they have is challenging. 

“(The team) has been vibing so well, it’s kind of hard to find my place and weave my way in. But they’re open to me trying and I’m doing my best.” 

Perhaps the toughest part of the process is facing the reality that this is her final season of college basketball. Armao entered the year eager to take on a leadership role in the locker room and make an impact on the court, until the latter was delayed by the injury.

“It was definitely the last thing on my list of things I wanted to do my senior year,” she said. "The hardest part was I worked so hard my freshman and sophomore years to get to this point.

“Coming into this season, I felt like I was on top of the world. Knowing this is my last season and every second I waste is one I won’t get back for my college career was the hardest part, but everyone has been super supportive.”

As the Tritons head toward the stretch run of its season, Armao finds herself in a similar situation entering the final stages of obtaining her degree. 

The senior said she's currently torn between pursing medical school or a career in environmental research after graduation. This quarter, Armao is taking a five-hour lab twice a week along with organic chemistry.

The goal and focus is much more clear on the basketball court, as the Tritons continue to work toward competing for a conference championship. Thursday’s contest in particular presents a big obstacle, as Cal Poly Pomona is currently second in the conference standings.

But according to Armao, the team's mindset won't be any different.

“We know at this point we have a huge target on our back,” said Armao. “Having confidence is one thing, but getting comfortable is a bad thing that comes along with it sometimes. 

“It’s a big game, but then again, all of the games this season are big for us.”

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THE SCHEDULE .
Game 19
vs. No. RV Cal Poly Pomona (14-1, 18-2 CCAA)
Thursday, Feb. 9 • 5:30 p.m.
Kellogg Arena • Pomona 
Watch • Live Stats • Tickets

Game 20
vs. Cal State San Bernardino (8-8, 9-11 CCAA)
Saturday, Feb. 9 • 1 p.m.
Coussoulis Arena • San Bernardino
Watch • Live Stats • Tickets

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ABOUT UC SAN DIEGO
Roster | Schedule | Statistics
• Overall: 18-0 
• CCAA: 14-0 
• Home: 7-0 
• Away: 8-0
• Neutral: 3-0 
• Highest National Ranking (WBCA): 2nd
• Against Nationally-Ranked Teams: -
• WBCA Coaches Poll (Feb. 5) : 2nd
• D2SIDA Media National Poll (Feb. 5): 3rd
• D2SIDA Media West Region Poll (Feb. 4): 1st
• CCAA Standings: 1st

UCSD

TRITON NOTES

  • UC San Diego is one of only three remaining undefeated teams in the nation.
  • The Tritons are ranked No. 2 in the WBCA Top 25 Coaches' Poll for the second-consecutive week. It's the highest the program has been ranked since the 2011-12 season.
  • UC San Diego is No. 1 in the D2SIDA West Region Media Poll for the second-straight week. 
  • The Tritons have begun the season 18-0, the program's best start since 2011-12. The Tritons won 26-straight games to begin that season, and reached the NCAA West Region Final.
  • UC San Diego has won 28-consecutive regular-season contests dating back to last season. It is the longest regular-season winning streak in program history. 
  • The Tritons have won 24-straight CCAA regular-season contests and 38 of its last 39 in conference play.
  • UC San Diego has won 21-consecutive road contests, including 19-straight CCAA road games.
  • Junior guard Sydney Sharp made seven 3-pointers and finished with 25 points in the Tritons' 94-67 Spirit Night victory over Stanislaus State on Jan. 31.
  • Junior forward Mikayla Williams finished with 19 points and nine rebounds in the win against Stanislaus State. Williams also recorded three blocks, shot 4-for-5 from the field and 11-of-13 from the free-throw line.
  • Junior forward Haleigh Hatfield posted 14 points and 11 rebounds in the home victory over Stanislaus State.
  • Freshman guard Brianna Claros tallied a career-high 10 assists in the win against Stanislaus State.
  • UC San Diego averages 78.7 points per game, which ranks 15th in the nation.
  • The Tritons rank seventh in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.31) and have the 11th-fewest turnovers per contest (12.3).
  • UC San Diego is making an average of 8.7 3-point field goals per game, which is tied for 18th nationally.
  • The Tritons rank 22nd in the nation in rebounds per contest at 43.5 a game.
  • The Tritons rank 30th in the country in free-throw percentage as a team, making 75.1 percent (260-of-346) of their attempts.
  • UC San Diego is outscoring opponents by an average of 16.4 points per game, which ranks 19th in the nation.
  • The Tritons average 16.1 assists per game, which ranks 29th in the country.
  • UC San Diego is holding opponents to 36.6 percent shooting from the field, which ranks 41st in the nation.
  • Williams is averaging 19.9 points per game this season, which ranks 25th in the nation. The junior forward is also 13th in rebounds per game (11.5), 18th in field-goal percentage (56.8), 45th in blocks per game (1.78) and her 11 double-doubles this season are tied for 16th-most nationally.
  • Junior forward Haleigh Hatfield is tied for 22nd in the country in rebounding, averaging 10.8 per contest.
  • Freshman guard Brianna Claros ranks 24th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.30).

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UC SAN DIEGO ROSTER BREAKDOWN
(2017-18 stats listed)
PROBABLE TRITON STARTERS 
G - #13 Joleen Yang (Sr., 5-6, 9.4 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.6 APG, 2017-18 All-CCAA Honorable Mention) 
G - #22 Sydney Sharp (Jr., 5-10, 6.0 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1.0 APG)
G - #21 Kayla Sato (Sr., 5-8, 13.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.9 APG, 2017-18 All-CCAA Second Team)
F - #10 Haleigh Hatfield (Jr., 6-1, Transfer from High Point University)
F - #33 Mikayla Williams (So., 6-1, 15.0 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.2 APG, 2017-18 All-CCAA First Team)

Starters Returning (3)
• #13 Joleen Yang (Sr., 5-6): 9.4 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.6 APG
• #21 Kayla Sato (Sr., 5-8): 13.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.9 APG 
• #33 Mikayla Williams (Jr., 6-1): 15.0 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.2 APG

Starters Lost (2)
Dalayna Sampton (F, 6-1, 2017-18 CCAA Player of the Year): 14.6 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 1.3 APG
Taylor Tanita (G, 5-4, 2017-18 All-CCAA Honorable Mention): 5.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5.9 APG

Other Letterwinners Returning (3)
• #40 Shandiin Armao (F, Sr., 5-10): 4.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 0.4 APG
• #14 Stephanie Moore (G/F, Jr., 5-10): 1.5 PPG, 0.4 RPG, 0.9 APG     
• #30 Layla Ybarra-Harvey (F, RSo., 6-1): 0.6 PPG, 0.4 RPG, 0.0 APG

Other Letterwinners Lost (4)
Marcella Hughes (G, Jr., 5-5): 4.3 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 1.0 APG
Paige Song (G, Sr., 5-9): 2.6 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 1.0 APG
Rebecca Williams (G, Jr., 6-1): 2.5 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.5 APG
Kristen Vrcelj (G, So., 5-10): 0.6 PPG, 0.4 RPG, 0.0 APG

Newcomers (5)
• #12 Madison Baxter (G, Fr., 5-9)
• #15 Brianna Claros (G, Fr., 5-5)
• #24 Kendal Ellenbeck (G, Fr., 6-0)
• #10 Haleigh Hatfield (F, Jr., 6-1)
• #11 Julia Macabuhay (G, Fr., 5-6)

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BIG WEST BOUND
On Nov. 27, 2017 UC San Diego was officially invited to become a member of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference. The Tritons will begin a four-year reclassification period starting in the fall of 2020. They will play a full Big West schedule that season and will be eligible for NCAA Championships in men's volleyball, men's and women's water polo and fencing. For the 2024-25 academic year, all sports will be eligible to compete in Big West and NCAA Division I championships. For more information, check out our full Big West Bound page here.

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CCAA STANDINGS
(through 2/5)
1. UC San Diego 14-0, 18-0 

2. Cal Poly Pomona 14-1, 18-2
3. Humboldt State 10-5, 12-6
4. Chico State 9-6, 12-6
5. Cal State San Bernardino 8-8, 9-11
6. Cal State San Marcos 7-7, 10-8
7. Cal State Dominguez Hills 7-7, 11-9
8. San Francisco State 7-8, 8-12
9. Sonoma State 6-9, 8-10
10. Cal State East Bay 6-9, 9-12
11. Stanislaus State 5-11, 6-14
12. Cal State LA 4-11, 7-12
13. Cal State Monterey Bay 0-15, 0-18

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WBCA COACHES POLL
(Feb. 5 - Week 11)
1. Drury (21-0) 
2. UC San Diego (18-0)*
3. Thomas Jefferson (20-0)
4. Indiana (Pa.) (18-1)
5. Fort Hays State (19-1)
6. Union (Tenn.) (21-1)
7. Northwest Nazarene (19-1)*
8. University of the Sciences (20-1)
9. Virginia Union (19-1)
10. Alaska Anchorage (19-1)*
11. Ashland (19-2)
12. Florida Southern (19-1)
13. Grand Valley State
14. Southwest Oklahoma State (19-1)
15. Bentley (19-2) 
16. Colorado Mesa (18-1)
17. California (Pa.) (18-2)
18. Lewis (18-2)
19. Angelo State (16-2)
20. Anderson (S.C.) (19-2) 
21. Central Missouri (15-4)
22. West Texas A&M (17-3)
23. Le Moyne (N.Y.)  (18-2) 
24. Lubbock Christian (18-4)
25. Minnesota State Moorhead (18-4)

* - NCAA West Region team

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UC SAN DIEGO IN THE WBCA POLL
• Preseason Poll: RV
• Week 1 Poll: 17
• Week 2 Poll: 14
• Week 3 Poll: 12
• Week 4 Poll: 10
• Week 5 Poll: 10
• Week 6 Poll: 9
• Week 7 Poll: 6
• Week 8 Poll: 5
• Week 9 Poll: 4
• Week 10 Poll: 2
• Week 11 Poll: 2

UC SAN DIEGO IN THE D2SIDA NATIONAL MEDIA POLL
• Preseason Poll: RV
• Week 1 Poll: 21
• Week 2 Poll: 19
• Week 3 Poll: 12
• Week 4 Poll: 9
• Week 5 Poll: 9
• Week 6 Poll: 9
• Week 7 Poll: 8
• Week 8 Poll: 7
• Week 9 Poll: 5
• Week 10 Poll: 3
• Week 11 Poll: 3

D2SIDA WEST REGION POLL
(Feb. 4 - Week 10) (First-place votes)
1. UC San Diego (6)
2. Northwest Nazarene 
3. Alaska Anchorage  
4. Cal Poly Pomona
5. Dominican 
6. Azusa Pacific
7. Humboldt State
8. Simon Fraser
9. Chico State
10. Central Washington

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ABOUT CAL POLY POMONA
Roster | Schedule | Statistics 
• Overall: 18-2 
• CCAA: 14-1 
• Home: 9-1 
• Away: 9-1 
• Neutral: 0-0 
• Highest National Ranking: RV

ABOUT CAL STATE SAN BERNARDINO
Roster | Schedule | Statistics 
• Overall: 9-11 
• CCAA: 8-8 
• Home: 5-3 
• Away: 3-6 
• Neutral: 1-2 
• Highest National Ranking: NR

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CCAA PRESEASON COACHES POLL
Rank         School                            Points (First-place votes)
1.             UC San Diego                   144 (12)
2.             Cal Poly Pomona              114
3.             Cal State East Bay.           111 (1)
4.             Chico State.                       100
5.             Cal State LA.                      96
6.             Humboldt State.                  93
7.             Cal State Dominguez Hills  89
8.             Cal State San Marcos         67
9.             Sonoma State                     57
10.           Stanislaus State                  54
11.           Cal State San Bernardino    50
12.           Cal State Monterey Bay       21
13.           San Francisco State            18

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2017-18 HIGHLIGHTS
UC San Diego won the CCAA regular-season championship for the third-consecutive season in 2017-18, matching a program and conference-best 21-1 record in CCAA play. The Tritons finished a perfect 11-0 on the road in CCAA games last year, with winning streaks of 11 and 10 in a row during the season. Forward Dalayna Sampton was named CCAA Player of the Year and earned Division 2 Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) All-West Region First-Team honors, while head coach Heidi VanDerveer was named CCAA Coach of the Year for the third-straight season and garnered Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Region 8 Coach of the Year accolades. In addition, returning forward Mikayla Williams was an All-CCAA First-Team and D2CCA All-West Region Second-Team selection, while returning guard Kayla Sato was named to the All-CCAA Second Team as well as the CCAA All-Tournament Team. 

FINAL 2017-18 CCAA STANDINGS
1. UC San Diego, 21-1*
2. Cal Poly Pomona, 16-6
3. Humboldt State, 14-8^ 
4. Chico State, 14-8
5. Cal State LA, 13-9 
6. Cal State East Bay, 12-10 
7. Cal State Dominguez Hills, 11-11 
8. Sonoma State, 9-13 
9. Cal State San Bernardino, 9-13
10. Stanislaus State, 8-14 
11. Cal State San Marcos, 8-14 
12. Cal State Monterey Bay, 5-17 
13. San Francisco State, 3-19

* CCAA regular-season champion
^ CCAA Tournament champion

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HEAD COACH HEIDI VANDERVEER
A former WNBA coach, Olympic team scout and assistant for the legendary Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee, VanDerveer enters her seventh season as UC San Diego head coach in 2018-19. VanDerveer was named California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Coach of the Year for the third-consecutive season in 2017-18, guiding the Tritons to a 28-5 overall record and 21-1 mark in conference play. She also earned Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) NCAA Division II District 8 Coach of the Year honors. UC San Diego won the CCAA regular-season championship for the third-straight year in 2017-18, making its third-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. For VanDerveer’s complete bio, click here.

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About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country.  The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference.  UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent.  A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Post Graduate Scholarships.  In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.

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For complete coverage and information regarding UC San Diego Athletics, follow the Tritons online at UCSDtritons.com and through social media on Twitter (@ucsdtritons), Instagram (@ucsdtritons) and Facebook (ucsdtritons). In addition, you can follow Tritons women's basketball on Twitter (@ucsdwbb) and Instagram (@ucsdwbb).

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