Team Concept 68
UC Irvine 88
The UC Irvine women’s basketball team officially tipped off their season on Nov. 2 with an exhibition game against Team Concept, a traveling team comprised of former college players. Team Concept defeated Long Beach State last Tuesday in an exhibition game, but the Anteaters had other plans for them as they cruised to an 88-68 victory at the Bren Events Center.
Throughout the first half, the Anteaters set up much of their offense for senior guard Angie Ned, last season’s First Team All-Big West and Big West Defensive Player of the Year.
Even with a mediocre shooting night, Ned led UCI with 17 points and three steals. Junior Christina Zdenek scored 12 points in the first half to propel UCI to an early 12-point lead. Team Concept would answer back, however, cutting that lead to only three at halftime by capitalizing on turnovers and scoring quick baskets in the last two minutes of the first half.
The second half belonged to UCI, though, and they came out running from the opening moments.
They scored seven unanswered points out of the locker room en route to a lead that stretched to 23 points at one instant.
Head Coach Molly Tuter utilized her bench in the second half and it paid off. Senior center Klinta Lisnere came off the bench to score 15 points. Reserve junior Annie Mai came in as a spark plug supplying 10 points and leading the team in assists in just 14 minutes of play. A pair of quick three-pointers from Mai, along with a pair of threes by junior Miranda Forry stretched the lead for UCI after the break.
‘We were fired up and mentally focused in the second half,’ Mai said. ‘Coach reminded us that it was an exhibition game and told us to have fun to put us at ease.’
Though the Anteaters had their momentum killed heading to halftime, Second Team All-Big West sophomore Kelly Cochran noted a ‘confident undertone’ in the locker room at the break.
‘This is a deep, deep team, and a lot of players stepped up when they needed to,’ said Cochran, who put up a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds. She also capitalized on several offensive rebounds with easy put-back baskets.
With about 10 minutes left in the game, the physical nature of the game took over. Zdenek took a stiff shoulder to the jaw trying to fight through a screen by Team Concept’s Reshawnda Richardson. No technical foul was called.
Shannon Donnelly led the way for Team Concept with a team-high 17 points.
The Anteaters had a very balanced attack on the offensive side of the ball as five Anteaters scored in double figures.
Last season the Anteaters started sluggishly with a 1-10 record, but finished the season strong, posting a 7-7 record in the Big West Conference. Irvine went on to lose a heartbreaking game in the first round of the Big West Conference, which ended their season.
This year the Anteaters hope the added experience of seven returning letter winners and four new players (three of which international) will help them build on last season’s accomplishments.
The women’s team will have plenty to prove after being projected to finish in fifth place in their conference by coaches and seventh by the media at Big West Media Day on Oct. 25.
The women’s basketball team will play their final exhibition game against Love and Basketball on Nov. 8 before starting the regular season against Eastern Washington on Monday, Nov. 13.
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