The UC Irvine women’s basketball team was glad that Wednesday’s match-up against Love and Basketball was only an exhibition game after a long scoring drought and numerous turnovers cost them the victory in a 77-59 loss at the Bren Events Center.
Junior guard Annie Mai and junior forward Stephanie Duda led the team, finishing with 11 points apiece, but it was a seven-minute span late in the first half that hurt the Anteaters.
After building an early 18-7 first half lead, the Anteaters didn’t score a bucket for well over seven minutes, allowing Love and Basketball to mount a rally.
‘Our effort was right there where needed it to be,’ said Molly Tuter, head coach of UCI’s women’s basketball team. ‘The problem was that we couldn’t make a basket.’
Love and Basketball never gave up the lead for the rest of the night, and the Anteaters suffered their first loss of the preseason. Irvine’s final preseason record stands at 1-1.
Aja Parham scored a game-high 17 points for Love and Basketball, and they had two other players score in double-digits.
‘We are still a young team,’ Tuter said. ‘The final score was not typical of our team and what they can do.’
The women’s team still had a chance at halftime as they were down by a small eight point margin, 34-26.
But the second half belonged to Love and Basketball, as they were able to get to the free-throw line on numerous occasions. Love and Basketball finished 26-38 from the charity strip, compared to Irvine’s 8-15.
Love and Basketball also gave the Anteaters very little hope of a comeback, shooting an unprecedented 60 percent from the field in the second half.
Senior guard Angie Ned added in nine points for Irvine but struggled to find her shot, finishing 3-12 from the field.
The Anteaters hope that their regular season won’t start off like it did a year ago when they won only one of their first 11 games.
‘It won’t happen again this season,’ Tuter said. ‘We have a brand new team. They understand what it takes to win and we will have more than one win after playing 10 games this season.’
The Lady Anteaters will play three of their first four games of the regular season on the road before returning for a four-game home stretch which includes nationally ranked UCLA and Arizona State.
The regular season tips off for the women’s team on Monday, Nov. 13 against Eastern Washington.