Women’s Bball Wins One, Drops Two Last Week

The UC Irvine women’s basketball team had a rollercoaster of a ride last week. There were drops, then ups, then drops again. UCI lost to Cal Poly last Monday, but rebounded against Cal State Northridge on Thursday. Then the Anteaters let a win slip out of their hands against Long Beach State last Saturday. Let’s begin with the good.

UCI took it to the Cal State Northridge Matadors early and often. The Anteaters, determined to put the past two conference losses behind them, came out of the locker room and started the game on a 19-0 run and just stuck it to the Matadors. This aggressive tone was set on both sides of the court as Junior Kim Barnes converted a three-point play to put the Anteaters up with 18:15 remaining in the first half. Sophomore sensation Mikah Maly-Karros made the Matadors realize that points were at a premium in the first half when she blocked two shots on the CSUN first offensive position.

The Anteaters dominated almost every single statistic in the first half of the game. UCI led by twenty-two points at one point in the first period. They held the Matadors to a minimal 28.6 percent field goal percentage and 50 percent from the charity stripe. UC Irvine out-rebounded Northridge 30 to 19 and forced sixteen turnovers. This all contributed to a 40-24 halftime lead by the ’Eaters.

However, the beginning of the second half saw a flip of scripts. Cal State Northridge started the final period on a 17-10 run that cut into the Anteater lead. The second half was turned into a back and forth battle that featured both teams exchanging buckets and fouls. Matador center Jasmine Erving dominated the paint all night and dropped twenty points on the ’Eaters. Forward Katrina Thompson gave the Matadors a spark when they needed it the most and shot 3-5 from three point distance to go along with her fifteen points.

The Anteaters, however, were determined not to let this game slip out of their fingertips. Barnes, who played in foul trouble the whole game, came up huge in the final moments of the game by knocking down two free throws with 31.6 seconds left in the game to give Irvine enough breathing room to hold onto the lead. Northridge hit a three with two seconds left, but that was too little too late and UCI held on for the 69-64 win.

Junior guard Jade Smith-Williams was in a giving mood all night, as she dished out nine assists to go along with fifteen points and four steals. Barnes scored seven and rebounded seven and was five of six from the free throw line. Maly-Karros had another spectacular game, scoring nineteen points and recording fourteen boards — her fourth straight double-double. Senior guard Keyonna Johnson chipped in with eleven points herself and four assists.

After the game, Coach Molly Goodenbour talked about her team’s performance.

“We brought good energy out there and made good shots. We did just enough to keep them behind. Our team did a decent job in rebounding and made enough shots to pull it out in the end,” Goodenbour said.

When asked how her team can keep up this momentum, Coach Goodenbour responded with, “We need to find ways to put good halves together and that’s our challenge and that will be our challenge.”

“We were ready to come out and win. The last two games we let slip away. We are still trying to finish games and sustain the lead. Any given night we can have different players step up,” Smith-Williams said after the game.

“We had really good patience down the stretch and Jade did an amazing job handling the ball at the top,” Maly-Karros added.

UCI dropped a heart-breaking 67-55 decision against the Forty-Niners at the Walter Pyramid last Saturday afternoon. UC Irvine fell to 4-12 on the season and 1-3 in league play, reverting back to their habit of letting games slip away towards the end.

The ’Eaters led at halftime and were tied with LBSU until five minutes left in the second half when the Forty-Niners scored eight straight points. Long Beach converted 14 of 15 free throws in the final two minutes to preserve the win.

Mikah Maly-Karros led all scorers with 19 points but only recorded six rebounds, her first time in four games not recording a double-double. However, she did prove her star mentality by going 2-2 from three, and racking up three steals as well. Jade Smith-Williams filled up the stat sheet with five points, seven assists, two steals, and a block.

UC Irvine will next play UC Davis at the Bren on Jan. 14, and the University of the Pacific on Jan. 16.