In a season full of them thus far, the second-ranked UC San Diego women’s basketball made another huge statement on Saturday, rolling over No. 24 Cal State Monterey Bay, 91-63, in a battle between the top two teams in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
UCSD trailed by 11 points in the first half, but rallied to hand one of its biggest rivals its first conference loss of the season in resounding fashion. Emily Osga led all scorers with 22 points for the Tritons, who shot 52% from the field and outscored the Otters 56-32 in the decisive second half.
UC San Diego, which earned its highest-ever national ranking in 11-plus seasons at the Division II level earlier this week, improves to 16-0 overall, matching the program record of 16 consecutive victories set back in 1997-98.
The Tritons, who have been absolutely dominant in CCAA play so far in 2011-12, now stand at 10-0 in conference and, with Saturday’s convincing victory, leave little doubt as to where the top team in the league resides.
Cal State Monterey Bay, which had won nine straight coming in, falls to 11-2 overall and 8-1 in the CCAA. The Otter’s hadn’t lost since late November.
Osga continued her recent surge, hitting eight of her 11 attempts from the field, including all three of her three-point tries, to lead four players in double figures for the Tritons. The San Diego native has now scored in double figures in four of the last five games, averaging 16.2 points per game over that span.
Lauren Freidenberg recorded her third double-double of the year, finishing with 18 points and a season-high 15 rebounds, while Chelsea Carlisle tallied 16 points and dished out 10 assists. Daisy Feder added 15 points as the UCSD offensive juggernaut scored 90 points for the second time in three games.
Erika Ward scored 15 points and grabbed six boards for Cal State Monterey Bay, which shot 34% (20-58) from the field. She finished 5-of-10 from the floor, with all 10 shots coming from behind the arc. Brandi Stephens finished with 13 points and four rebounds.
Monterey Bay led by 19-8 following a jumper by Jessica Fontenette with 12 and a half minutes remaining in the opening period, but UCSD scored eight of the next 10 points to cut the deficit to five at 21-16.
A layup by Stephens gave the Otters a 25-17 advantage with just over six minutes left in the half, but the Tritons answered with a game-changing 13-0 run over the next four minutes to assume the lead, 30-25. Osga scored seven points during the decisive stretch, as UCSD started to exert its will and take control.
Shonetta Crain-Williams hit a pair of free throws to bring CSUMB to within 33-31, but Osga scored on the Tritons’ final possession of the half to give UCSD a four-point edge heading into the locker room, 35-31.
The Tritons shot 48% (14-29) in the half, with Osga scoring 11 on 5-of-6 shooting to lead the charge.
Riding a wave of momentum, UCSD came out firing in the second stanza, outscoring CSUMB 15-2 over the first four and a half minutes to take a commanding 50-33 lead. Carlisle hit a runner and then drained a three to start things off and Freidenberg had three big baskets during the run.
The Tritons hit five of their first six shots to open the half, while the Otters missed seven of their first eight.
UCSD extended its lead to 20 at 55-35 following a bucket by Natalie Luzar , but Ward hit a three and Brittani Jefferson scored on a putback to bring Monterey Bay to within 15 with 12:27 left to play. The Tritons scored eight of the next 11, however, to push the margin back to 20 (63-43).
Back-to-back triples from Osga and Feder made it 72-47 with 8:29 remaining and UCSD cruised home from there, leading by as many as 30 (88-58) in the waning moments.
The Tritons hit 18-of-33 shots in the second half, 54%, connecting on 6-of-9 from downtown. UCSD outscored CSUMB 38-20 in the paint for the game and scored 28 points on 15 Otter turnovers.
The Tritons will look to keep their historic run going when Sonoma State and Humboldt State come to town next weekend.