HOOPS: The women’s basketball team surrendered Thursday’s game in the final minutes for a disappointing loss.
It seemed like the ’Eaters would add another W to their record, as they sat comfortably with a nine-point advantage over the UC Davis Aggies with just under five minutes left remaining in the second half.
But in the Bren Events Center on Thursday night, the Aggies mounted a 13-0 run while the ’Eaters remained scoreless, resulting in a tough 47-43 loss. The ’Eaters’ record is now 5-10 in the Big West and 9-18 overall.
UCI had made a comeback in the second frame, trailing almost the entirety of the first half.
At one point, Davis had a nine-point lead over Irvine with a little under 10 minutes to play in the first. Irvine was able to close the lead, and the momentum shifted when UCI junior Jennifer Tsurumoto sank a crucial three-pointer with only 14 seconds left in the half, putting the ‘Eaters up 20-18 at halftime, their first lead of the game.
The shot presented itself after Tsurumoto ran a good 10 seconds off the clock, used an up-screen from junior Jasmine Bernard and found herself open for a shot beyond the arc.
“We planned to stall a little bit and set an up-screen,” Tsurumoto said. “And we knew they were going to switch, so it was either I would be open or Jasmine would be open, but the post sagged off and Coach always tells us to take open shots, so I thought, ‘I’ll take that one.’”
The first 15 minutes of the second half proved to be different than the first. Unlike the first, the Anteaters maintained a lead for a majority of the second half. With 5:16 left to play, Tsurumoto made two free throws, giving Irvine a nine-point lead, their largest lead of the night.
The momentum shifted again shortly after, only this time it was not in Irvine’s favor. With one quick field goal and three 3-pointers, the Aggies found themselves only down by two with 3:21 to play. The ’Eaters failed to recover, despite having plenty of opportunities.
“Tomorrow at 10 ‘clock, we’ll get together and we’ll purge,” Head Coach Doug Oliver said. “We’ll rehash what happened to us in this ball game and it’s happened to us in past games when we just have stretches where we don’t score the ball. Unfortunately in the last five minutes, we could not put a point on the board; we’re notorious for that.”
The ’Eaters got off to a slow start, making just eight-of-28 and going the first four minutes without putting a point on the board. Junior Kelly Meggs struggled from beyond the arc, shooting only one-of-seven for the game. Junior Camille Buckley shot two-for-seven in the game before fouling out with 13 seconds remaining on the clock. Bernard, the high scorer for the game, accumulated 13 points for Irvine, but unfortunately it was not enough to clench the win.
Scoring was not the only factor in this close game; the ’Eaters also struggled to rebound and were shown up by the Aggies. In both halves, the Aggies out-rebounded the ’Eaters by 11, limiting Irvine’s number of shot attempts while increasing Davis’ number of shot attempts. Despite Buckley’s contribution of a game-high 15 rebounds, the ‘Eaters were weak on the boards, a weakness that may have cost them the win.
“I give Davis a lot of credit because we dominated in rebounding at their place and they didn’t allow that here,” Coach Oliver said. “They beat us on the boards, got more rebounds than we did and that was the difference in the ball game. Camille did her job; the rest of the kids have to chip in.”
Regardless of the loss, Coach Oliver stated that he thought his team’s “effort was good” and that his girls got “good mileage” on their box-and-one, a change-up in their defense during the game.
And the effort was there — Tsurumoto contributed 12 points with three assists, Buckley with seven points and 15 rebounds, Bernard with her 13 points and Meggs with three points and four assists.
“Our shots just weren’t falling,” Tsurumoto said. “Normally we penetrate really good and kick, but we couldn’t figure out their defense. I just think our shots weren’t falling across the board; it wasn’t one single player that was the reason that we lost.”