2-16 from 3-point land in a half is not a recipe for success. And for the California Baptist Lancers, the struggle in the first half of the 2022-23 season opener was real. But, after the first half shooting struggles and an 8-point halftime deficit, something clicked out of the locker room.
Trinity San Antonio and Sila Finau combined for 30 second half points to lift CBU to an 84-76 win over UC San Diego on opening night at the CBU Events Center.
CBU head coach Jarrod Olson had his defense go against the UCSD Princeton offense for two weeks. But the Lancers still struggled against it. UC San Diego shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, and hit eight 3-pointers. Denali Pinto was the catalyst in the first half for the Tritons. Pinto had a team-high 11 points to help the Tritons take a 41-33 lead into the halftime break.
CBU led 16-14 after a quarter as Trinity San Antonio scored with 37 seconds left to put the Lancers ahead.
It was all UCSD however in the second as the Tritons went 11-17 from the field, including 5-10 from three point range, to take a 41-33 lead into the half. Madison Baxter was 2-2 from deep with a pair of go ahead threes including a banked in one from the left wing which put UCSD up 29-27 with 5:30 left until the half. Denali Pinto hit a three pointer of her own to set the eight point lead at 39-31 and the break came with the Tritons in front 41-33.
“They’re a transition team, too” Olson said. “But, Heidi does such a great job in running that Princeton offense. And you know it’s never going to be easy going against them. Every time we play against them it makes us better. And that’s what I want as we head towards WAC play, to be tested.”
Through the midway point of the third quarter, CBU still had trouble defending the UC San Diego offense, finding themselves down 12 points in the middle of the third quarter.
A pair of Pinto free throws put UCSD up 47-37 with 6:53 left in the third.
It was at that point in the third quarter, Trinity San Antonio decided the Lancers were not going to lose.
San Antonio started a 20-8 Lancer run with a pair of 3-pointers. And Grace Schmidt gave the Lancers their first lead since early in the second quarter with a 3-point play with 1:36 remaining in the quarter.
“I didn’t even know if she was going to play today. But we had a good matchup in there for her and she took advantage of it.” Olson added about Schmidt. “We feel like she’s definitely going to be a good player here and it was a nice start to her time with us.”
Courtesy of the run, CBU a 57-55 lead after three quarters.
Things were a little back and forth in the fourth quarter. But every time UC San Diego made a bit of a run, the Lancers had an answer. San Antonio and Finau combined for 23 fourth quarter points to lead the Lancers to a win on opening night.
“I’m not surprised that Trinity is seeing the benefits of the hard work she put in this summer.” Olson remarked about San Antonio (a local product from nearby Corona Centennial). “Most of the time when I watch her play I become a fan like everyone else because you never know what’s going to happen next. You can see the differences in her shooting and composure from just one offseason and I’m so proud of her.”
Madison Baxter’s layup with 3:26 left in the fourth cut the deficit to 3 for UC San Diego.
But on the next possession, Colorado transfer Leslia Finau connected on the first of two fourth quarter 3-pointers to restore a two score lead at 74-68.
After Julia Macbuhay’s layup cut the lead to six with 1:27 left, Finau hit the dagger. Her second 3-pointer of the game pushed the lead to nine with 54 seconds remaining. And CBU never looked back.
“Finau missed some time because she was with the Tongan national team,” Olson said. “But she came in and played really well tonight. It was just a question of how much time she was going to see with Brittany Klaman out. And she is definitely capable of those kinds of numbers on a nightly basis.”
2️⃣ of 3️⃣1️⃣
— California Baptist Women's Basketball (@CBUwbb) November 8, 2022
Trinity San Antonio: 31 points (a new career high) on 9-23 FG’s (3-13 3-pointers), 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals
Sila Finau: 15 points on 3-6 FG’s (2-4 3-pointers), 6 rebounds, 2 assists
Pinto: 17 points on 4-8 FG’s (3-5 3-pointers), 5 rebounds, 3 assists
Macbuhay: 13 points on 6-11 FG’s, 3 rebounds, 3 assists
Brown: 12 points on 3-9 FG’s & 7 rebounds
Cangelosi: 10 points on 4-7 FG’s
CBU will host Saint Mary’s on Saturday in an afternoon tip-off at the CBU Events Center.