UCI Drops Opener to New Mexico State

The women’s basketball team came up just short, despite a late second-half run on Friday night at UC Irvine’s Crawford Court. Through no shortage of effort, the Anteaters could not quite recover from a deficit that reached as many as 11 points.
Both teams came out of the gate rusty, each converting less than 40 percent of their field goals. The New Mexico State Aggies triumphed in the rebound battle (54-35), getting many more offensive boards than UCI.
Freshman center Kim Barnes supplied offense, scoring eight points in just 12 minutes of play for UCI. Sophomore Keyonna Johnson provided a spark off the bench with nine points and four rebounds.
UCI attempted to get the ball to Barnes on the inside to take the load off All-Big West Honorable Mention senior forward Stephanie Duda, and second team All-Big West junior forward Kelly Cochran.
Picking up where she left off before falling to a season-ending knee injury last year, Cochran poured in 16 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double. She also led all players with 38 minutes played. Duda was one rebound shy from a double-double herself, with a characteristic 11 points and nine rebounds. She supplied timely steals and hustle plays that helped keep her team in the game. The Anteaters had a tough time putting it all together, however. Starting senior guards Miranda Forry and Annie Mai atypically shot for a combined three for 15 from the field. On any other night this percentage would seemingly be higher and guide the Anteaters to success.
In the second half UCI buckled down and kept the game close. After a Mai three-pointer and increased defensive pressure in the half-court, UCI snagged a three point lead with 11 minutes to go in the game. Unfortunately, NMSU combated this with athletic plays in a run of its own.
While UCI would not back down, the nail in the coffin proved to be when NMSU’s Brittany Henderson hit a jumper with 1:24 to go in the game. The Aggies would extend the lead to five here and stay on top.
NMSU’s Sherrell Neal had a game-high 19 points and 11 rebounds, breaking the 1,000 career-point plateau with 1,004 all-time. Anikia Jawara added 16 points and nine rebounds, while Henderson added 10 rebounds and eight points off the bench.
The Anteaters look to redeem themselves Thursday, Nov. 15 when they travel to play University of Utah. They resume action on the home floor on Tuesday, Nov. 20 against Cal State Bakersfield at the Bren Events Center.