By Robert Dewayne Jr. Courville
UCI 63 CSUN 72
The Anteaters (3-16, 0-4) kept it close but never led Thursday night and were unable to secure their first Big West conference win of the season against Cal State Northridge (13-6, 3-2).
After an uninspiring first half of basketball just one week ago against Cal State Fullerton, the Anteaters opened the game Thursday night with a much more balanced attack offensively. UCI was able to shoot 48 percent from the field and had eight of the nine players that saw the floor in the first half show up in the scoring column. The first half scoring was sparked by sophomore Shereen Sutherland who scored UCI’s first six points of the game and finished the half with eight points on 4-6 shooting.
Despite the hot shooting and holding CSUN to 42 percent from the field in the first half, the ‘Eaters found themselves trailing at the half 40-36. CSUN was led by sophomore Jasmine Johnson who registered 15 rebounds off the bench, and as a team racked up 25 rebounds, 14 of them offensive, compared to UCI’s 11 at halftime. CSUN took advantage of the rebounding and capitalized on second chance opportunities, helping them maintain the lead throughout the first half.
The ‘Eaters were less effective offensively in the second half shooting only 25 percent from the field and only 1-13 from behind the arc. UCI’s second half scoring was led by sophomore point guard Irene Chavez who scored seven points on only 3-14 from the field including 0-8 from the three point line. UCI was much more effective rebounding the basketball in the second half, tallying 22 rebounds with 10 of those being offensive rebounds.
“We were embarrassed with our effort, but give CSUN credit for utilizing their size. We asked our perimeter players at halftime to crash the boards to cut the rebounding deficit,” Coach Oliver said.
The ‘Eaters were able to use 13 CSUN second half turnovers to keep the score within reach. CSUN freshman Ashlee Guay sparked a 12-6 run in the first five minutes of the second half to extend the Matador lead to 52-42 with only 15:20 remaining in the game. Still the ‘Eaters fought back holding CSUN to only six points over the next eight minutes to keep the game competitive. With just six minutes left in the game, sophomore forward Mokun Fajemisin drained a 15-foot jumper to shrink the Matador lead to 56-52. However, the Matadors dug in on defense and proved too much for the ‘Eaters to handle, outscoring them 16-11 in the closing minutes to put the game out of reach. Cal State Northridge was led by a trio of double-digit scorers, with Ashlee Guay leading the way with 22 points on 8-13 shooting on the night. CSUN outrebounded the ‘Eaters 56-35 in what led to 24 second chance points offensively.
UCI 50 Hawai’i 85
UC Irvine (3-17, 0-5) never led as Hawai’i (11-7, 3-2) cruised to a dominant 85-50 victory at the Bren Saturday, January 24th. Hawai’i was dominant inside, out- rebounding the ‘Eaters 28-13 in the first half and 53-32 in the game. The scoreboard read 8-8 with 15:22 left to go in the first half when Hawai’i exploded for a 22-5 run over the next ten minutes of play to push the score to 30-13, taking a 35-20 lead into halftime.
In the second half Hawai’i wasted no time extending their lead and used a 15-4 run to take a commanding 55-28 lead with 13:29 left. UC Irvine never got closer than 27 points down for the remainder of the game in what has to be a disappointing performance for the ‘Eaters.
UC Irvine was led by freshman Mokun Fajemisin with 16 points on 6-9 shooting, five rebounds and four blocks. After erupting for a career high 22 points against CSUF, Irene Chavez has cooled off a bit in the last two games shooting only 23% from the field.
UC Irvine has now dropped five straight games to conference opponents and have lost 16 of their last 18 games overall. The Anteaters will be back in action when they travel north to take on the winless Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara (0-18, 0-5) next Thursday (Jan. 29) at 7 p.m.