Goodenbour Has UCI Playing Well
The Lady Anteaters have recorded back-to-back victories this week with an impressive away win against the University of Pacific and a hard fought home game against Cal State Fullerton. Sophomore forward Mikah Maly-Karros starred in both games with a career high 35 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks against Pacific and 28 points and 14 rebounds against the Titans.
After a back and forth start to the game against Pacific, the Anteaters came out strong in the second half to send them into a 14-point lead with 12 minutes left in the game. Pacific never recovered from the dominating second half showing.
The victory over the Titans was not as comfortable but the Anteaters showcased their nerve and determination to keep the Titans at bay. The game got off to a quick start for Irvine and they led 19-11 just eight minutes into the game. Irvine’s quick and determined play left Fullerton with no answer but to foul. Consistent free throws from Maly-Karros and senior guard Rebecca Maessen sent the Anteaters into a quick lead.
The Titans gradually worked their way back into the game as the Anteaters began to lose some of their early momentum. A length of scrappy play was marked by a string of fouls that allowed Fullerton to creep back within three points. Fullerton went 14-17 from the free throw line and Irvine put up similar 15-18 stats by the end of the first half. Irvine finished the first half with a slender 37-33 lead.
Fullerton came out of the locker room with newfound determination and managed to briefly take the lead four minutes into the game with a series of points from Titan guard Britt Peters. Peters would go on to score 18 points, playing all 40 minutes of the game.
The second half was a tense affair for the Anteaters who had to work hard to maintain their lead. With the Titans never more than 5 points behind until the dying minutes of the game, junior Jade Smith-Williams put on a spirited display of basketball as she worked ceaselessly to defend their lead and carve open the Titan’s defense with clever passes.
With 12 minutes to go in the second half, Smith-Williams’ calf cramped after being sandwiched between two Titan players while going up for a rebound. Undeterred by her injury, Smith-Williams continued to orchestrate attacks with Maly-Karros and Keyonna Johnson. The lead would change two more times with the Titans taking a lead at 53-54, only to find themselves trailing again within the minute. Eventually, Maly-Karros’ 14-15 free-throw shooting would gradually see the Anteaters pull ahead of the Titans by six points with just over three minutes to go. The Titans could not make up the last bit of ground and the Lady Anteaters held on for their second win this week, 73-65.
“You never know what’s going to happen on the road but if you can win your games at home you at least have a chance,” Head Coach Molly Goodenbour said, stressing the importance of winning at home.
Maly-Karros was very pleased with the team’s victory and how well they played.
“It feels good to see things coming together for us after working so hard. Our guards did a great job of handling the pressure from Fullerton and getting me open shots,” Maly-Karros said.
At 8-14, 5-5 in the Big West, the women’s team currently sits in 6th place in the conference. This is a stark improvement from last year, when the team won seven games all year.
The Lady Anteater’s take on Cal State Bakersfield next Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Bren Events Center with a little more confidence after two consecutive conference victories.