Sometimes, all a team needs is a good game to get going. Sometimes, that game doesn’t just come from the points on the board at the end of the day. Sometimes, that game comes when everyone starts to trust each other and play as a team.
On Jan. 15 at the Bren Events Center, the UC Irvine Women’s Basketball team (2-12, Big West 1-5) defeated Cal State Fullerton 75-74 in a game that featured multiple career-highs and all-around team play.
UCI sophomore guard Angie Ned said that she finally ‘believes in [herself] and [her] teammates,’ and by the looks of things, so does everyone else on the team.
According to Molly Tuter, UCI’s interim head coach, the team just ‘keeps getting better’ and should compete well in the Big West as long as it continues to ‘play as a team.’
In fact, the Anteaters played so well together that more than one player had a career high. Freshman guard Annie Mai, who had scored just 19 points in her career, scored a career-high 16 in this game before fouling out.
Senior center Ashley Biggins was all over the boards, grabbing 21 rebounds, the most since the school record of 23 was set in 1994.
‘Tonight we just focused on the little things. I focused on rebounds,’ Biggins said.
Biggins also matched Mai’s 16 points for her own career high. The game was Biggins’ fourth double-double of the year.
In the previous two games, UCI averaged just 43 points and shot only 27 percent from the field. This game, things turned around as the Anteaters went into halftime with 38 points on 47 percent shooting.
Mai led all scorers at halftime with 14 points and Biggins led in rebounds with 11.
CSUF (1-12, Big West 0-5) had 26 points on 26 percent shooting in the half. UCI lead at halftime, 38-26.
The second half began with a foul by Charlee Underwood, second leading scorer for the CSUF Titans, which seemed to foreshadow a second half much like the first. However, the Titans still had some fight left in them. They battled their way back and managed to get within four points with 6:28 left on the clock.
About a minute later, junior forward Lauren Yadon hit a jumper and completed a three-point play after being fouled by Amber Pruitt, and then hit another jumper on the next trip down to put UCI up by 11, seemingly sealing the deal.
But Fullerton wouldn’t go away. With 2:14 left in the game and UCI up by eight, Underwood decided to take things into her own hands and come alive.
Underwood hit a three to put CSUF within five points.
The Anteaters came down the floor looking to answer, and junior guard Melissa Jacob did just that, hitting a three-pointer to put the lead back to eight.
Underwood just would not take no for an answer as she drained yet another three after an offensive rebound by fellow teammate Melanie Mosely.
A blocked shot gave the ball back to CSUF and the ball once again went to Underwood as she took a three, missing the rim and getting only glass as the ball bounced to her teammate for an easy bucket.
With UCI ahead by only three points, Yadon was fouled and drilled both free throws to put CSUF in a tight spot.
After the free-throw, CSUF’s Underwood repeated the previous trip down the court, shooting a heavily contested three that missed. CSUF’s Mosely was there to clean up and put it back for two.
With just seconds left on the clock, it was Ned’s turn to be a hero. She was fouled immediately after receiving the ball, and made one of her two free throws to seal the deal.
Andrea Adams hit a three for CSUF at the buzzer, but it was not enough as UCI won their first conference game. But the game was not won by Ned who hit the final point to seal the deal.
The game was not won by Yadon who picked up seven of the final 12 points scored by UCI.
The game was not even won by Mai or Biggins who recorded career highs.
The game was, in the words of Tuter, ‘a complete team effort.’
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