While we were on our way home and stuffing ourselves with turkey over Thanksgiving break, the UCI women’s basketball team was at work. On Wednesday, Nov. 21 the Lady Anteaters lost 62-52 at home against Denver. They also traveled to New Mexico for the Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic, where they went 1-1, defeating the Drake Bulldogs 69-64 on Friday, Nov. 23 but losing to New Mexico State 50-44 on Saturday, Nov. 24.
At home on Wednesday, the Anteaters were led by Jennifer Tsurumoto, who scored 10 points and brought down a career-high five rebounds.
But it wasn’t enough to keep up with the Denver Pioneers, who drained nine three-pointers, five of which were assisted by Morgan Van Ripper-Rose, who had a game-high 21 points.
After trailing 34-27 at the half, UCI came within one point of the lead with 10:29 left in the game. But the Pioneers answered with six straight points, and finally, with 17 seconds left, Denver emphatically ended the game with a three-pointer.
But the team did have something to be thankful for 24 hours after turkey day, as they recorded their first win of the season in a game against Drake in New Mexico.
With 5:14 left in the game, UCI led by 13 points, 61-48. But the Bulldogs dropped 11 straight points to put the score at 61-59 with only 1:36 left.
Tsurumoto hit two free-throws, followed by a score from Drake’s Stephanie Running, to keep the teams apart by two. Anteater Jasmine Bernard hit a bucket in the paint, but Drake responded with a three-pointer to bring the Bulldogs within one point with only 39 seconds left. But with an offensive rebound and putback from Methlyn Onogomuho, a missed three-pointer by Drake and two made free-throws by UCI, the game was won.
After shooting just 34 percent from the field and 55.6 from the free-throw line against Denver on Wednesday, UCI shot its best game of the year, going 39.1 percent from the field and 90 percent from the free-throw line.
The fun didn’t last long, however, when the New Mexico State Aggies defeated UCI 50-44 in the title game of the tournament.
New Mexico State jumped to an 11-4 lead to begin the game before UCI battled back with an 11-5 run, and the ‘Eaters were only down by one, 21-20, to end the first half. UCI came out of the locker room and went on a quick 9-5 spurt on back-to-back jumpers by Anete Klintsone to go up 29-26 with 12:18 to play.
New Mexico retaliated with three consecutive three-pointers and a basket in the paint to go up 37-29. But UCI answered with an 8-0 run, capped by two free throws by Tsurumoto, to tie the game at 37 apiece with 4:23 left.
The Aggies scored eight of their own unanswered points, leading 45-37 with only 1:17 on the clock. Two free-throws from UCI and two baskets from Tsurumoto, plus a bucket by Onogomuho, with 46 seconds left brought the game close again, but the Aggies finished the game with five free-throws, taking the title from the Anteaters.
Sophomore Onogomuho went 4-8 from the field with 8 points to go along with her two steals. Junior guard Tsurumoto led the team in scoring for both games of the tournament with 14 points and a career high six rebounds.
The team continues its road schedule this Saturday, Dec. 1 with a game in Washington against Seattle University at 4 p.m.