The women’s basketball team did not let its 0-3 start to the season discourage them as it gained steam, winning two straight games last week by beating Cal State Bakersfield (2-2) 74-61 and Sacramento State (0-4) 78-44.
In the first game of the season in the newly-renovated Bren Events Center, the Anteaters had to fight back from an 11-point halftime deficit. The ‘Eaters came out of the locker room blazing in the second half and scored 15 of the first 17 points, quickly giving them their first lead of the game. Cal State Bakersfield’s Shawnee Carter hit a jumper to tie the game at 43 a-piece, but the ‘Eaters responded with an 18-1 run that they would not look back from.
The Lady ‘Eaters shot 45 percent for the game. They showed more patience and better shot selection in the second half, shooting 16 for 31 at 52 percent. Junior Kelly Cochran and senior Stephanie Duda dominated the game on the inside as both tallied a double-double. Cochran posted 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Duda tallied 10 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Miranda Forry led the team in scoring with 20 points.
On Saturday morning, the Sacramento State Hornets came to the Bren to challenge the Anteaters, but the ‘Eaters were too hot for them. UC Irvine took an early 22-8 lead with eight minutes left in the first half. Duda once again dominated the boards despite injuring her left hand in the game with nine rebounds in the first half and 11 for the game. She recorded her third straight double-double. The Anteaters led by as many as 15 points in the first before a late 10-4 Sacramento State run led by Charday Hunt brought the Hornets within single digits at a 32-23 at halftime.
Not wanting to give the Hornets hope, the Lady’ Eaters once again came out strong in the second half holding Sacramento State to only four points in the first 10 minutes of the second half while scoring 23 points. The early run was attributed to the Anteaters tightening up their defense while speeding up their fast-break offense.
The early second half run was led by senior Annie Mai, who came in for sophomore Rebecca Naessen after a hard foul left her shaken up. After a scoreless first half, Mai scored nine of the ‘Eaters’ first 13 points of the half, including a three-point shot and a couple of nice drives to the hoop.
‘Annie Mai came off the bench and gave us a really good spark,’ said Head Coach Molly Tuter.
Freshman Kim Barnes led in scoring with 16 points on 6-7 shooting and one block. Barnes also shot 4-4 from the free throw line, keeping her at a perfect 10-10 at the charity stripe for the season. Sophomore Keyonna Johnson tied her career-high with her second straight six-assist game. The ‘Eaters shot a season-high 53 percent from the floor while keeping Sacramento State to just 26 percent shooting.
‘I thought it was a great team effort from the first half to the second half. Everyone got significant time tonight, which was awesome,’ stated senior Haley Tull.
After two home games at the Bren, UCI will travel to Washington to face Eastern Washington and Washington University. The team will miss the Bren, but it has unfinished business to take care of.
‘I love the Bren, It’s awesome. The floor is great. The hoops are great. Everything is great when you get a W,’ Tull joked. ‘Eastern Washington came down here last year and beat us pretty good, so we want to go there and return the favor to them.’