Cal Poly 65
UC Irvine 62
In a tight contest against Cal Poly, the UC Irvine women’s basketball team came up on the losing side in the end. Through no shortage of effort, but more likely a shortage of players, the Anteaters could not quite recover from a sizable second-half deficit losing 65-62 Saturday night at the Bren.
Bitten by the injury bug, the Anteaters have had to combat the absences of starters like sophomore forward Kelly Cochran and junior guard Christina Zdenek with improvised lineups.
Freshman Keyonna Johnson saw a career-high 36 minutes of playing time at point guard. When asked about the choice, UCI Head Coach Molly Tuter noted ‘Keyonna is still learning. But she brings great competitiveness and hard defense to the game.’
The Anteaters’ competitive tone was set early, as junior guard Annie Mai sprinted for a lay-up following the opening tip off to gain the early advantage. With eight more free throw attempts and five more second-chance points than Cal Poly in the first half, UCI held a five-point lead at one point. They led by one at halftime, thanks to a buzzer-beater by reigning Co-Big West Player of the Week, senior guard Angie Ned.
It was in the second half that UCI’s advantage waned. In that period’s opening minutes, Cal Poly took a lead that grew to as much as eight points with 14 minutes left in the game. To combat this, UCI did not so much start a big run of their own, but tenaciously chipped away at the lead.
With five minutes to go, the Anteaters tied the game back up at 55-55, but junior forward Stephanie Duda picked up her fourth foul and was benched.
While she came back in the game with three minutes to go, it was not enough as Cal Poly regained the lead and never looked back. Duda finished with a team-leading 18 points, 15 rebounds and four steals.
‘We played as a team but some of our shots just didn’t fall’ Duda said.
‘We missed eight free throws and went 0-14 from the three-point line. If some of those shots fall we win the game,’ Tuter added.
Cal Poly out-shot UCI 53 percent to 34 percent for the game.
Angie Ned and junior guard Miranda Forry added 14 and 11 points, respectively, but both also picked up four fouls. Junior Annie Mai fouled out of the game leading the Anteaters in assists for the evening.
With 44 seconds to go in the game and facing a 63-60 deficit, Miranda Forry missed a crucial lay-up. While she would redeem herself converting a jump shot with 25 seconds left, Cal Poly would go right back on the offensive by getting to the foul line twice more en route to their 65-62 victory.
‘We know who we have on the team and we are beyond used to each other,’ Forry said. ‘The loss isn’t from the last two minutes of the game but from some defensive lapses and mistakes we made throughout.’
Sophomore forward Megan Harrison led Cal Poly with 20 points. Now within 50 points of the 1,000 point milestone, senior Cal Poly guard Jessica Eggleston added 16 to her career total.
The loss came after the Anteaters came up short in its rally attempt against UC Santa Barbara on Thursday and lost 81-71.
The Anteaters are now 6-19 overall and 3-8 in Big West play. They resume action Thursday Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Bren Center.