La Jolla, California - It won’t take long for the Tritons to find out where they stand this season.
The University of California San Diego women’s basketball 2018-19 schedule will be challenging from the very beginning. The slate features two non-conference games in the first two weeks against teams that made the NCAA West Regional last March, including a road rematch against first-round opponent Seattle Pacific on Nov. 17.
“We always try to schedule competitively,” said UC San Diego head coach Heidi VanDerveer, who enters her seventh season at the helm. “It gives us a great idea of what we need to work on and what we’ll see come postseason.
“It will be a great test for us.”
UC San Diego, which earned the No. 3-seed in the West Region tournament a year ago, begins the 2018-19 season with an exhibition road game against future Big West foe UC Riverside. The Tritons begin the regular season with neutral-site contests against Simon Fraser on Nov. 9 and last season’s No. 2-seed Hawaii Pacific on Nov. 10.
Both games will be held at The Sports Center on the campus of Cal State San Marcos.
The Tritons then travel to Seattle, Wash., the following week for the Sodexo Tip-Off Classic hosted by Seattle Pacific. UC San Diego takes on Western Washington on Nov. 16 before the rematch with the Falcons on Nov. 17.
“These games will set the standard for us the rest of the season,” said senior guard Joleen Yang. “If we don’t do well these first few games and aren’t prepared for this competition, it’s going to leave a bad taste and we won’t have as good of a seed come postseason.
“Even early in the preseason, we really have to be thinking about the postseason. How we do is going to affect us later.”
California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play begins with UC San Diego’s home opener against Chico State in newly renovated RIMAC Arena on Nov. 24, as the Tritons begin the quest to win their fourth-consecutive regular-season conference title.
The CCAA slate also features four home games in the month of December, highlighted by a visit from last season’s CCAA Tournament champion Humboldt State on Dec. 29.
It will be the first of two meetings with the Lumberjacks this season, which Yang already has circled on her calendar.
“I think every game is going to give us a challenge,” she said, “but I will say we’re very excited about those matchups.”
Following a two-game road trip to Northern California for rematches with Chico State (Jan. 24) and Humboldt State (Jan. 26), the Tritons return home for Spirit Night against Stanislaus State on Thursday, Jan. 31.
The schedule winds down with a road showdown at Cal Poly Pomona on Feb. 7, a home contest against Cal State LA on Feb. 16 and the final regular-season game at home against Cal State East Bay on March 2.
In all, the conference schedule consists of 22 games and spans five months.
“(Conference play) is definitely a grind, but it makes it easier since we know all these teams,” said Yang. “Every (CCAA) team is working hard so we know we have to be working harder if we want to beat them. We always have to be on our toes and prepared for the next game.”
VanDerveer echoed that sentiment, but is confident her team will be ready for the challenge.
“Our conference is very challenging and every team is different,” she said. “On any given night, we have to bring our ‘A’ game. It’s a cliché, but it’s true.
“But if we’re competing at our highest level, we can be competitive with anybody.”
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.