An attempt at a dramatic come-from-behind victory fell just short for the UC Irvine Women’s Basketball team in a nonconference game against the UC Davis Aggies on Thursday night at the Bren.
The Anteaters were down by five points with 18 seconds left when sophomore guard Miranda Forry hit a deep three-pointer to cut the UC Davis lead to 55-53. Davis’ Lara Jackie Turpin was intentionally fouled and could have shut the door on the Anteaters’ comeback, but she managed to make only one of her two free throws. With 12 seconds left and no timeouts remaining, the Anteaters needed a three pointer to send the game into overtime. Angie Ned came off a screen but her contested shot didn’t even draw iron as time eventually expired.
The 56-53 loss against the Aggies snapped the team’s season-high five-game winning streak. They now look to close out the regular season with a win against division-leading Long Beach State before heading into the Big West Tournament.
‘Coach gave us the play from the sideline and we just didn’t execute on the screens,’ Ned said. ‘A lot of things just didn’t go right for us tonight, but we’ll bounce back.
Outside shooting was especially detrimental to the Anteaters. While the Aggies (16-9) hit six three-pointers, including four by forward Lara Gray, the Anteaters truly lived and died by the three-point shot. After making a season-high 11 three-pointers in an upset win against UC Santa Barbara, the Anteaters were only three of 16 from behind the arc and shot slightly better than 30 percent from the field.
‘We have to learn to become more patient within our offense and not just settle for the three-point shot,’ said UCI Head Coach Molly Tuter. ‘If we work the ball inside on a regular basis, it will lead to wide open jumpers for everyone.’
The stifling defense exhibited throughout the game frustrated both teams as UCI (9-17, 7-6 Big West) was unable to solve the Aggies’ 2-3 zone, while the Aggies turned the ball over 21 times.
The Anteaters trailed at halftime 39-34 and saw the Aggies’ lead grow to as much as nine points in the second half. Down 45-38 with 12 minutes left in the game, UCI held the Aggies without a field goal for an incredible 10 straight minutes. The only problem was the Anteaters only hit two of their shots to go along with four free throws during that stretch to cut the lead to 49-48. Freshman forward Kelly Cochran had a chance to tie the game with just under a minute left to play, but her three-point shot missed off the front of the rim. That was the closest the Anteaters would get for the rest of the game.
‘We played pretty good team defense in the second half, but we still have to work on our shot selection on the offensive side of the ball,’ Cochran said. ‘If we executed the last play, it’s a completely different basketball game.’
Even with the team’s offensive struggles, Cochran was one of UCI’s few bright spots. She collected yet another double-double with a game-high 14 points to go along with a career-high 17 rebounds.
Sophomore forward Stephanie Duda, last week’s Big West Player of the Week, struggled throughout the game. She managed to hit only two of her 13 field goal attempts and missed three of her five free-throws. Junior guard Angie Ned, who leads the team averaging 15 points a game, scored a quick 12 points in the first half, but struggled in the second half as she went scoreless, missing all seven of her shots.
‘It’s just irritating when you lose a game you know you could have won,’ Tuter said. ‘The officials didn’t help us much either.’
The Anteaters conclude their regular season against conference rival Long Beach State on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at the Bren.