The UC Irvine Women’s Basketball team tried to kick off the 2005 season on a positive note when they hosted the Fresno State Bulldogs on Friday, Nov. 18 at the Bren Events Center. Yet, after a sluggish start, combined with missed opportunities and early season jitters, the Anteaters eventually fell to the Bulldogs, 93-84.
In the first half, Fresno State jumped out to an early 31-23 lead with Bulldog Amy Parrish dominating in the post with 12 first-half points. Yet, the Anteaters were finally able to solve Fresno State’s full-court zone defense and created some momentum toward the end of the half to eventually cut the lead to one point, 36-35. Freshman forward Kelly Cochran helped ignite the comeback with seven quick first-half points. Yet, the Bulldogs pulled away in the final two minutes and built an eight-point lead heading into the half, 44-36.
‘We needed to get more physical on the boards and grab the loose balls,’ said Head Coach Molly Tuter. The rebound battle was clearly dominated by the Bulldogs as they capitalized on many second chance points and out-rebounded the Anteaters 23 to eight in the first half and 50 to 29 for the game.
In the second half, the Bulldogs pulled away and built their lead up to 16 points. Junior guard Angie Ned refused to let UCI (0-1) throw in the towel. She scored 11 of her 17 points in the second half and had help from fellow guard, senior Melissa Jacob, who added 13 points and six assists.
The three-point shot also came alive for the Anteaters as they were able to hit five three-pointers in the final 10 minutes to cut the Bulldog lead to 88-82. Even with the strong effort, the Anteaters were unable to contain the Bulldog starters, as four of them scored in double figures-led by Parrish’s 20 points and nine rebounds.
Despite the poor defense, UCI is still optimistic. ‘Even though it was the first game of the season, we still have a lot of things to work on,’ said freshman guard Kirian Ishizaki. The mistakes we made are correctable and the only thing that seems to be stopping us is ourselves.’
Many of these mistakes were made at the free-throw line for the Anteaters, as the charity strip did not seem to be in a giving mood. With the referees calling an astonishing 59 fouls in only 40 minutes of action, the Anteaters failed to take advantage of the referees’ quick whistles. They finished the game shooting a Shaq-like 50 percent from the free-throw line, making only 18-36 attempts, while Fresno State went a prolific 35-42 from the charity strip.
‘If we make our free throws, we win the game,’ Tuter said. ‘It’s as simple as that.’
Even with this loss, many of the players and coaches believe there were many positives that came out of the game. The Anteaters shot close to 50 percent from the field and showed their depth with 11 different players scoring for the squad.
‘We were able to execute on offense and score over 80 points,’ said senior forward Lauren Yadon. ‘We just have to improve on our defense and build on the fact that we played Fresno tough in the second half of the game.’
The Anteaters now look to get back to .500 and capture their first win of the season when they take on Loyola Marymount at the Bren Events Center on Monday, Nov. 21.