Women’s B-Ball Struggles

Northridge 76
UC Irvine 60
The UC Irvine women’s basketball team (5-13) suffered a disappointing loss to Cal State Northridge (6-10), 76-60 at the Bren Events Center on Jan. 11. The Matadors took advantage of the Anteaters’ lack of size and horrid shooting to control the majority of the game and secure their victory.
The loss was the only blemish on a successful week for the women’s team as they pulled off victories against Utah Valley State on Jan. 9 and an overtime victory over Pacific on Jan. 13.
Against the Matadors, the Anteaters opened the game with a rough, scrappy defense which forced 14 turnovers in the first half. Senior guard Angie Ned led the attack with two steals in the first half and finished with a total of five.
It was evident that the Matadors wanted to push the tempo and pound the ball inside the paint. However, with excellent rotation and good weak-side defense, the Anteaters managed to build a ten point lead and seemed in control of the game.
The Matadors, though, would claw their way back into the game as their star forward Ofa Tulikihihifo would score on a series of perimeter and inside baskets finishing with 14 in the first half and a game-high 20 points.
The Matadors would continuously feed it inside and wear down the Anteaters’ small front court and bother them with the 1-3-1 zone midway through the first half.
‘They threw the zone at us and did a good job of using it,’ said Head Coach Molly Tuter. ‘Man-to-man they couldn’t stop us. But we just didn’t do a good job against the zone.’
With the dismissal of freshman center Naomi Halman from the team, the Anteaters lost a formidable force on the defensive end. The Matadors found holes in the Anteater interior defense and scored lay-up after lay-up.
It was also a cold shooting night for the Anteaters, who struggled mightily on the offensive end as they shot a dismal 29.3 percent from the field in the first half. Due to the lack of size, combined with bad shooting, the Anteaters found themselves headed into halftime trailing, 34-30.
Things would not get better for the Anteaters in the second half as the Matadors pounded the ball inside the paint one possession after another.
‘In the first half we did a decent job of defending their big kids,’ Tutor said. ‘The weak-side defense just wasn’t there in the second half. That’s just on us not focusing enough. We did a good job nullifying their height but then we just lost our focus in the second half.’
In addition to playing solid offense, the Matadors would stifle the Anteaters with the zone defense. The Anteaters never got rid of their shooting woes as they continued to struggle against the zone shooting only 33.3 percent in the second half
‘We were just rushing the game and should’ve handled the zone a lot better,’ said junior guard Annie Mai. ‘It kind of flustered us; we were just throwing shots up and not playing our game as well as we could have.’
The Anteaters’ defense would slow down considerably in the second half as the Matadors’ front court wore them down play after play. Northridge would shoot a blistering 70.4 percent in the second half and finished shooting 61 percent for the game.
The Anteaters had no answer for the Matadors as they were outscored 48-12 inside the paint.
Ned had a team-high 16 points with Mai tallying 12 on a combined 10-32 shooting night. Junior forward Stephanie Duda had a busy night on glass as she grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds.
Despite the loss, the Anteaters remain optimistic about their season and will use this game to learn from their mistakes heading into the heart of conference play.
‘We need to always be aggressive and attacking,’ Ned said. ‘We need to stay in our principles