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UCSD Men's Water Polo Team Earns NCAA Berth

With an 8-7 win over UC Davis, the Tritons claim the Western Water Polo Association Championship.

The men's water polo team earned its first conference title since 2006 and a trip to the NCAA Championship with an 8-7 win over UC Davis in the Western Water Polo Association Championship on Sunday afternoon at Canyonview Pool.

The Tritons saw their three-goal lead heading into the final quarter evaporate as the Aggies pulled even at 7-7 with 3:37 left. The next time down the pool, Josh Stiling won a physical battle in front of the net before punching in the eventual game-winner off a rebound from Graham Saber.

“Water polo is a game of attrition. You’ve got to be measuring for the whole game how your reserves are and how it’s going to play out in the end,” said UCSD head coach Denny Harper. “There was certainly concern because Davis was coming on. But, it’s how you finish it, and, we certainly had enough to finish it.”

Harper has guided the Tritons to every one of their 15 WWPA titles, including three in past ten years.

The winner of the of the conference tournament receives the WWPA’s automatic bid to the Dec. 4-5 NCAA Championship, hosted by Cal. This will mark the Tritons’ 11th appearance at the national championship tournament.

Goalie David Morton was named tournament MVP after recording 32 stops in the Tritons’ three games. Saber and John Butler joined Morton on the all-tournament first team and Brian Donohoe was named to the second team.

UCD (22-11) upset four-time defending champion Loyola Marymount and UCSD (17-9) cruised past Santa Clara in their respective semifinal. LMU is the only other team besides UCSD to win a WWPA crown this millennium.

“I’m happy for these guys,” said Harper. “For our players to experience what they’re about to experience, it’s pretty dog-gone good.”

MEN'S BASKETBALL

Kwame Alexander scored the go-ahead basket with 18 seconds remaining to lift Cal State San Bernardino to a 66-63 double overtime victory over UC San Diego in both team's California Collegiate Athletic Association opener on Tuesday evening at RIMAC Arena.

The Tritons held a 63-59 lead with 2:20 left in the second OT, but the Coyotes scored the final seven points of the game to escape with the win and spoil UCSD's home opener.

Tyler McGrath scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds to pace UCSD (3-2 overall, 0-1 CCAA), while Christian Hatch recorded his second straight double-double with 11 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Justin Brue and Ryan Peters scored 10 points apiece.

Tre' Brewer scored 15 points to lead four players in double figures for CSUSB (2-0 overall, 1-0 CCAA). Alexander finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Theron Laudermill also tallied a double-double with 13 points and 13 boards.

San Bernardino finished at 41 percent (26-64) from the field and UCSD shot at a 35% (24-69) clip. The Coyotes hit just 3-of-19 from the three-point line, while the Tritons were 5-of-19.

McGrath finished 5-of-11 from the floor, including 3-of-8 from behind the arc, while Hatch was just 4-of-14 and Brue was 5-for-12. Peters converted four of his six attempts, finishing 2-of-3 on threes.

CSUSB had a slim 45-42 advantage on the glass and outscored UCSD 34-28 in the paint.

UCSD led 30-22 at halftime but the Coyotes outscored the Tritons 17-4 over the first seven minutes of the second half to take a 39-34 advantage. UCSD came back with the next five points to tie the game at 39 and neither team led by more than three for the rest of the period.

Tuesday's game marked UCSD's third double overtime contest in the past two seasons. UCSD defeated Cal State L.A. (76-73) and San Francisco State (87-82) in double OT in 2010-11.

The Tritons are off the rest of the week and will return to the court against CCAA rivals Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State L.A. on the road Dec. 2-3.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

The nationally ranked UC San Diego women’s basketball program has signed two high school seniors to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period, head coach Charity Elliott announced on Monday.

Leeann Alferness, a 6-0 center from Novato, and Taylor Hirz, a 6-2 center from Santa Ana, will join the Tritons as true freshmen in 2012-13.

“We are thrilled to welcome Leeann and Taylor into the Triton family,” Elliott said. “They are both going to have huge careers here at UCSD and help us continue to compete on a national level. Christmas came a bit early for the Tritons this year and we are so pleased that these two incredible young women will be joining our program.”

Alferness is in her senior year at San Marin High School in Novato, where she has been a four-year varsity starter for the Mustangs. After being named to the All-Marin County Athletic League Second Team as a sophomore, she went on to lead the MCAL in both scoring and rebounding as a junior, averaging 16.4 points and 10.6 rebounds.

Hirz was an instrumental part of a Foothill High School squad that finished second in the Century League and advanced to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs last season. She also competes with the Cal Swish Club Team, which is one of the top AAU squads in Southern California.

After defeating Hawaii Pacific and Hawaii Hilo to capture the UHH Vulcan Classic crown over the weekend, the Tritons (4-0) will make their first home appearance of the 2011-12 season when they host the UCSD Thanksgiving Classic.

The Tritons will take on Cal State San Marcos on Friday, before squaring off with Fort Lewis College on Saturday. Both contests will tip off at 7 p.m. at RIMAC Arena./b

UCSD’s four wins have come by an average of 18.7 points. The Tritons’ smallest margin of victory came in the 82-65 triumph over HPU on Friday. Friday’s game marked Elliott’s 100th victory as head coach of the Tritons.

Now in her fifth season with the program, Elliott has an overall record 100-31 (.763) and currently ranks second on UCSD’s all-time wins list behind only Judy Malone, who won 411 games from 1976-2005.

SWIMMING AND DIVING

The UC San Diego swimming team completed its solid showing at the Arena Invitational Saturday as the men finished third overall and Alex Henley broke her own school record to collect a win in the 200 backstroke at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool.

With 814.5 points, the UCSD men placed third behind Stanford (2,142 points), which is ranked fourth nationally, and UC Santa Barbara (909 points), while placing ahead of several NCAA Division I teams including Hawaii, Arizona State and BYU. 

The women's contingent finished in 10th place with 337 points, ahead of Division I teams like Hawaii, Fresno State, the University of San Diego, LMU and Pepperdine. Reigning NCAA Division I national champion Cal, ranked second in the nation, topped the field with 989 points, No. 23 Arizona State was second (865.5 points) and No. 7 Stanford placed third (812 points).

The Tritons were the lone NCAA Division II school among 20 women's teams and nine men's squads.

Henley swam a 1:57.11 to take first place in the 200 backstroke and break her former school record of 1:57.14. The two-time reigning national champ in the 200 fly, Henley's time Saturday met the NCAA B Cut.

UCSD hosts a dual with Cal Poly on Sunday, Dec. 18, beginning at 2 p.m. at Canyonview Aquatics Center.

WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL

The UC San Diego women's volleyball team's season came to an end Friday as 23rd-ranked Sonoma State downed the No. 15 Tritons 3-1 in an NCAA West Regional semifinal. Scores were 25-12, 25-17, 16-25 and 25-20 at Coussoulis Arena on the campus of Cal State San Bernardino.

UCSD, the 15th-ranked squad in the country and second seed in the West Regional, was making its sixth consecutive NCAA postseason appearance. The Tritions finished the season with a 22-6 overall record.

Top-ranked and unbeaten Cal State San Bernardino swept Sonoma State Saturday by scores of 25-14, 25-17 and 26-24 to win the West Region and advance to the NCAA National Championships.

Several members of the UCSD team garnered accolades as the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) and Daktronics announced their all-league and all-region selections last week.

Senior outside hitter Hillary Williamson picked up honors from both factions, being named First Team All-CCAA as well as a Daktronics Second Team West Region All-Star selection. Senior setter/outside hitter Roxanne Brunsting was also an All-CCAA First Team selection, while senior outside Katie Condon was named a member of the All-CCAA Second Team.

AWARDS

The UC San Diego women’s soccer team had six players named to the Daktronics NCAA Division II All-West Region team. In addition, senior goalkeeper Kristin Armstrong earned the region’s Player of the Year award.

Junior defender Hayley Johnson, senior midfielder Anne Wethe and Armstrong were first team selections. Junior defender Ellen Wilson, senior midfielder Shelby Wong and senior forward Sarah McTigue were placed on the second team.

UCSD finished the season 13-3-4 overall after falling to Chico State in the NCAA Tournament Second Round.

On the men's side, Cory Wolfrom and Alec Arsht of UCSD were named to the 2011 Daktronics NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer All-West Region team.

Wolfrom and Arsht, both sophomores, earned Second Team honors after leading their team to a 10-8 overall record and 9-7 CCAA mark. UCSD ended the year on a four-match winning streak and missed the CCAA Tournament by two points.

The duo was also the only two players from this year’s Triton squad who earned All-California Collegiate Athletic Association honors. Wolfrom was named to the All-CCAA Second Team while Arsht was an Honorable Mention selection.

–Compiled from press releases issued by the UC San Diego sports information office

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