Women’s Basketball Struggles Continue

Last Monday, Nov. 21 at the Bren Events Center, the UCI Women’s Basketball team fell to Loyola Marymount by a score of 93-73. Though sophomore guard Annie Mai had 12 points in a career-high performance, it wasn’t enough to stop the hot hand of Amanda Patton and the rest of the Lions.
The game was quickly in the hands of Loyola (1-1) as they took an early four-point lead, eventually widening it to 10 before the Anteaters (0-2) managed to push for a comeback. With 7:05 left in the first half, UCI had narrowed the margin to a single point and both the bench and the crowd were keeping the energy high.
Though UCI Head Coach Molly Tuter would claim after the game that ‘our effort was not there,’ she seemed to forget the small glimmer of hope that the team had when the game was nearly tied.
The game stayed very close for two more minutes until LMU’s Amanda Patton decided it was time to take over. In less than a minute, she hit two free throws and two threes, combined with a layup by teammate Bronwyn Evans, to change the single-possession game to a 13-point LMU lead. The Anteaters didn’t get within 10 points for the rest of the game. The energy in the building evaporated and the effort now seemed useless.
‘Our energy level wasn’t there,’ Mai said. ‘Our team just didn’t work well together. I don’t know what it was.’
The problems became evident very early in the game, even while UCI managed to stay close. The shot selections seemed rushed and the offense was stagnant. As Tuter noted, ‘We made running our offense tonight really difficult.’ During the night, the team only shot 37.5 percent while Loyola made 51.7 percent.
Throughout the game UCI seemed to be running scared, starting with four fouls in the first four minutes of the game. The problems continued as players forced shots, failed to communicate on the full-court press, and allowed LMU to dump off passes for easy layups.
For most of the first half, only UCI freshman guard Kirian Ishizaki seemed confident with the ball. She led the team with five assists, but her most important contributions were her ability to calm the team down, break the full-court trap and run the offense. Even she had a few of the turnovers though, contributing to the 27 that the Anteaters had during the night.
Starting forward Stephanie Duda may have been the other exception to the rule as she managed to pull down seven rebounds, shoot seven of eight from the charity stripe and have no turnovers on her way to a team high 13 points.
As much as UCI takes the blame for making the key fundamental mistakes, they can’t deny that their opponent did everything right. LMU hit 70 percent from beyond the arc and had five different players score in double figures.
When it came down to it, the whole game seemed to be encompassed in one of the final plays of the first half. With LMU running a tight press, hoping to pick up an easy score before halftime, UCI took advantage of it and sent senior forward Kimberly Martin streaking down the floor.
As it was with the rest of the night, the baseball pass was a little bit long, the catch was fumbled, and instead of a quick layup, the play resulted in a turnover that would lead to a late score by LMU.