UC Irvine was doomed by 16.9 percent shooting in a 56-24 loss to visiting UC Davis Thursday night.
The Anteaters were frustrated by a stingy and physical Aggie zone defense and never got into the game. A 3-pointer from junior guard Rebecca Maessen with a minute left in the first half brought UCI’s scoring total up to 7. Maessen, who has been averaging 14.4 points versus Big West opponents, would finish the game with just those 3 points, but had a career-high nine rebounds.
Earlier in the season, UCI played UCD (8-14, 4-7 in the Big West) close, losing by 12 points on Jan. 17. Junior guard Jovana Petrovic scored 20 points in that game to pace the Anteaters. Petrovic led UCI scorers in points again, but this time with 5 points.
The Aggies stifled UCI’s offensive game with a turnover-causing zone defense. The Anteaters turned the ball over 21 times, and UCD guard Hana Asano picked up six steals singlehandedly.
“We anticipated having some turnovers against their zone, but we also anticipated making some more shots,” said Head Coach Molly Goodenbour. “That was the obvious difference in the game.”
UC Davis seemed to be fired up from the very beginning, yelling and shouting to the point of obnoxiousness. This would come back to bite the Aggies later in the game, when red-shirt freshman Samantha Meggison received a technical foul for the Aggies late in the second half.
“We’re done playing them this year, so that’ll help us,” Goodenbour said. “We just need to have a short-term memory and get past this game and regroup.”
UCI has struggled on offense ever since junior guard Mary Has suffered a season-ending torn ACL injury in practice on Jan. 13. At the time of her injury, she was the second leading scorer and leading rebounder on the team.
“[Has] is difficult to replace,” Goodenbour said. “She was a player we could rely on for 10 to 12 points a game. She played the backup point guard position — now we don’t really have a backup point. So it puts more pressure on other players to play in roles that they’re not as comfortable in, and don’t suit their abilities as well.”
Pacific 48 UCI 44
The UC Irvine women’s basketball team (5-20, 2-10 in the Big West) hosted the University of the Pacific Tigers Saturday night at the Bren. The Anteaters led the Tigers until the last 11 minutes of the game when Pacific took the lead and won the game 48-44. After the Anteaters’ loss on Thursday, the team was looking to come back and play an aggressive game.
“We were more focused tonight,” said junior guard Keyonna Johnson after the game. “Our team just wasn’t there during Thursday’s game so we had to really show up tonight.”
Both Keyonna Johnson and her twin sister KaJahna contributed to the close game, each scoring 6 points. Senior Kirian Ishizaki was the leading scorer of the game with 13 points, including two 3-pointers.
“Our team struggles offensively, so in order to have a chance, we had to really focus on defense tonight,” Ishizaki said.
During Friday’s practice, the team analyzed Pacific’s offensive plays to better prepare for Saturday’s game. Pacific’s guard Gretchen Tiernan is the leading 3-point shooter in the Big West league, and forward Amber Simmons is the league leader in overall points per game.
“We played really well tonight considering Pacific’s strong offense. Tiernan only scored 2 points in the game and Simmons scored 4,” Ishizaki said.
The ‘Eaters played a strong first half, going into halftime with a 26-21 lead against the Tigers. The game tied up at the 13:41 mark during the second period and remained a close game until the end. The Anteaters struggled with a seven-minute gap without scoring, giving Pacific an opportunity to get ahead.
Head Coach Molly Goodenbour was generally pleased with the team’s performance.
“We have trouble scoring and needed to take advantage of every opportunity we had. The twins did a great job defensively. We had to completely forget about the last game and I think we accomplished what we were trying to do tonight,” Coach Goodenbour said.
The women’s team travels to Cal State Northridge next Wednesday to play the Matadors in a crucial conference game.
The final games of the season will determine if the ‘Eaters continue to the Big West Tournament next month in Anaheim.
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