Despite an unending effort by the UC Irvine Women’s Basketball team, last Saturday’s game against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo was nothing more than disappointing. Though the Anteaters pushed themselves until the very end, even scoring within the last second of the game, it wasn’t enough to stop the 99-72 loss against the Mustangs on Jan. 7 at the Bren Events Center.
The Anteaters’ (2-11, Big West 0-1) exertion during the game cannot go unnoticed, but was no match for the Mustangs’ (8-4, Big West 3-0) tight defense and unmerciful offense.
The game started off in the hands of the Mustangs who took possession of the ball after the jump and quickly found themselves in the Anteaters’ defense. Within a minute, Cal Poly’s junior forward Jessica Eggleston had put her team on the board, giving them an early 2-0 lead.
However, UCI sophomore guard Miranda Forry responded to the Cal Poly invasion with a three-point shot, bringing the score to 6-3 in favor of the Mustangs within two minutes of play. Forry had a career-high 16 points during the game and was assisted on her first basket by freshman guard Kirian Ishizaki, who had a career high 7 assists for the night.
‘It was frustrating on my part,’ Ishizaki said. ‘We weren’t as aggressive as we used to be and really weren’t talking too much as a defense.’
The back-and-forth play continued throughout the first half as the Anteaters found themselves outrun and outshot by the Mustangs’ penetrating offense.
With less than three-and-a-half minutes left in the first half UCI was able to break the Cal Poly lead down to only three after a 15-1 run. However, the hope gained from this was short-lived as Cal Poly scored five straight in response and ended the first half in their favor at 45-34.
As the second half began, Cal Poly quickly assumed control of the game after gaining 20 points and pushing the score to 64-44. Unfortunately for the Anteaters, this 20-point deficit would be the closest they would come to their opponents for the rest of the game.
Though Cal Poly had taken early control of the second half, the first two points went to UCI thanks to Forry. However, as she had done in the first half, Cal Poly’s senior guard Jennifer Dooley responded with a three-point shot and started the lead that would doom the Anteaters.
Although the 20-point gap was constant throughout the remainder of the game, it didn’t break the Anteaters’ spirit. In fact, freshman forward Kelly Cochran was able to slip one past the Mustangs’ defense with less than a second left in the half. The point, assisted by Ishizaki, would be the last scored in the game.
Throughout the game UCI seemed to have no problem moving the ball into Cal Poly’s zone defense, but suffered once they were there because of the Mustang’s impenetrable defense. It seemed as though the Anteaters had to make a fast break past the Mustangs’ defense for any chance of scoring.
‘We need to be more confident,’ said UCI Head Coach Molly Tuter. ‘We really had a hard time containing their penetration.’
Despite the constant attacks from the Mustangs, UCI’s spirit didn’t seem to fade and neither did that of the fans. Up until the Anteaters’ very last basket you could catch the crowd booing and shouting in efforts to distract the Mustang defense. Even the band pitched in efforts to aid their home team as they once again pulled out their made-for-Davis cows and mooed the opposing team in an effort to disrupt their concentration.
UCI will return to the Bren Events Center Monday when they face UC Santa Barbara in a Big West Conference doubleheader.