Toros Win NCAA West; Advance to NCAA Elite Eight
Top-seeded Cal State Dominguez Hills captured its first ever NCAA West Region Championship with a 73-51 victory over 3rd-seeded Cal State San Marcos, and is heading to the NCAA Elite Eight next week.
The eight-team tournament takes place March 20-22 in St. Joseph, Missouri, with the two surviving schools battling for the NCAA Championship on April 1, in Dallas, Texas.
Asia Jordan, who earned NCAA West Region Most Outstanding Player, led all players with 19 points and pulled down 10 boards to lead the charge after the Toros were in constant foul trouble during the first half of play.
Dawnyel Lair also posted a double-double of 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds as the Toros outscored the Cougars 46-25 in the second half to avenge last week’s setback at the CCAA Tournament.
The game itself was a microcosm of the entire season with CSUDH’s defense and rebounding overwhelming its opponent. After the first 10 minutes of play saw the Toros down 20-15, CSUDH locked down defensively and held San Marcos to just six points in taking a 27-26 lead at the half.
Lair, who was named the CCAA Player of the Year and CCAA Defensive Player of the Year, asserted herself after the break, scoring eight points in about 90 seconds to give the Toros a 37-31 lead. That spurred the top seed to push its lead even more, taking the first double-figure lead of the game at 48-38 on a Jordan layup with four seconds left in the quarter.
The final quarter saw CSUDH’s agressiveness on both ends of the floor take the Cougars out of their game, continuing to dominate the boards as their lead grew to 17 at 55-38 on another Lair bucket.
All-Tournament selection Charity Gallegos scored seven-straight points to bring CSUSM to within 10 at 55-45 with 4:30 left in regulation, but All-Tournament selectio Poland stopped the run with a basket in the paint, with Jordan following that up with another layup to stretch the lead to 14.
CSUSM had one final run in it as free throws by Kate Carlson and a jumper by Gallegos cut CSUDH’s lead to 61-49, but a Booker basket, free throw by Joe’l Benoit, layup by Jordan and a pair of Benoit freebies pushed the gap to 68-49, all but sealing the West Region.
After a Lair free throw brought the score to 69-49, CSUSM made wholesale subs for the final 1:25, in the eventual 73-51 decision.
The Toros out-rebounded the Cougars 51 to 29, including 23 on the offensive end, leading to 50 points in the paint.
Poland adding 12 and Booker 10 points in yet another balanced attack.
In addition to the trio of Toros and CSUSM’s Gallegos, Central Washington’s Samantha Bowman, who earlier was named the West Region’s Player of the Year, was named to the All-Tournament team.