UC Irvine 59
Seeking to get back in the win column, the UC Irvine Lady Anteaters fell short in their bid against the Cal State Fullerton Titans on Thursday losing 77-59 at the Bren Center.
Though the game would go back and forth for most of the first half, Cal State Fullerton eventually seized control and never looked back.
The Anteaters held a 28-24 lead with five minutes remaining in the first half, but seemingly became unraveled. Picking up her second foul, UCI senior guard Angie Ned remained in the game to provide UCI much of its offense. At halftime she led her team with 12 points, but had little scoring help from the rest of the team as the Anteaters trailed 47-34 at the break.
‘We had mental lapses on defense and [Cal State Fullerton] has improved its outside shooting,’ said UCI Head Coach Molly Tuter.
Cal State Fullerton out-shot UCI 47 percent to 37 percent from the field, and 44 percent to 33 percent from the three-point line.
‘Our defensive let-downs gave way to them knocking down easy three [pointers],’ Ned said. ‘They were able to draw help defense and find open shots.’
The Titans were led by Big West scoring leader, sophomore center Toni Thomas. Posting her 14th straight double-double, Thomas dropped 20 points and 10 rebounds in a dominant performance.
Though she led UCI with 10 rebounds and five steals, junior forward Stephanie Duda was visibly frustrated by Thomas’ stellar play. Duda scored only nine points off of 4-for-18 shooting from the field.
‘We just need to get tougher,’ Tuter said. ‘We must follow our concepts when the going gets tough. We knew they would be this physical. They were physical last time we played them.’
UCI junior forward Miranda Forry put up 11 points but failed to score in the second half when the Titans pulled away for the victory.
For the Titans, junior guard Dayana Frias posted 15 points and senior forward Charlee Underwood added 11 points and 16 rebounds for Cal State Fullerton. UCI out- rebounded 47-33 on the glass leading to a 12-to-four advantage on second chance points for the Titans.
The Anteaters played better defense in the second half of the game, causing many Titans turnovers. On the night, Irvine caused 24 turnovers, which led to 23 points for the Anteaters.
On Saturday, the UCI women’s basketball team fell short again against conference-leading UC Riverside 72-62.
After trailing by only seven points at halftime (39-32), the Anteaters were unable to close the gap any closer in the second half, resulting in the loss.
It was Ned again who led the Anteaters with 20 points followed by Duda’s league-leading 14th double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the game. Forry added 15 points in the loss.
One of the biggest advantages Riverside had in the game was on the glass. The Highlanders got many second chance opportunities as they out-rebounded Irvine 57-36.
Additionally, the Anteaters shot only 27 percent from the field in the second half (10-37), making any chance of a comeback very difficult.
One positive out of the game was the Anteaters’ aggressive defense, which allowed only 33 second-half points and created 17 turnovers from the top-ranked team in the conference.
The Anteaters record now stands at 6-21 overall, including a 3-10 record in the Big West Conference. With the loss, Irvine currently sits in a tie for sixth place in the conference with Long Beach State.
Though the team has been plagued by a number of injuries, including the loss of last season’s Big West freshman of the year Kelly Cochran, the Anteaters will need to grab some momentum before heading into the Big West Tournament on March 7 if they wish to continue its season.
The Anteaters will look to break their five-game losing streak when they take on UC Davis in a non-conference game on Thursday, Feb. 22 on the road.
The team will return for its final home game of the season on Saturday, March 3 against rivals Long Beach State.
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