The look of frustration on head coach Doug Oliver’s face following the UCI women’s basketball team’s loss to Grand Canyon University said it all: One way or another, the team needs to start playing more aggressively.
After holding a five-point lead with 4:53 left in the fourth quarter, the Anteaters soon faltered, conceding a 58-53 loss to the Antelopes after being outscored 17-7 in the game’s closing minutes. Coming into the final quarter of play, UCI (3-6) held a 41-35 lead, but was outscored 23-12 in the fourth.
“We have to reevaluate what we’re trying to get done, but most of it is physicality,” said Oliver. “We allowed the other team to physically dominate us, and I don’t know what to do to coach that.
“You just got to defensively push up. Sometimes when they come at you, you go at them.”
The Anteaters were out-rebounded 49-32 against the Antelopes, with UCI claiming a mere seven offensive rebounds compared to GCU’s 18. Much like their loss to Northern Arizona less than two weeks ago, the majority of the Anteaters’ rebounds fell on the shoulders of junior forwards Mokun Fajemisin and Shereen Sutherland, who combined for 18 of the Anteaters’ 32. With the Antelopes’ (5-6) rebounding efforts, the team doubled the Anteaters’ total in second-chance points 12-6.
“We can’t rely on Shereen and Mo to get every rebound. And it’s the second time it’s happened this year; over in Arizona, we had won going into the fourth quarter and we just got physically pushed around, and we don’t push back,” said Oliver. “It’s evident on offensive rebounding.
“We had opportunities, but we didn’t share the ball very well, so back to square one.”
For Sutherland, who has now posted three consecutive 17-point games, the solution is a simple one:
“Rebounding, we need to box out more.”
After trailing for the entirety of the first quarter, the Anteaters rebounded in the second to take a 31-25 lead into the half. At 16-21, sophomore guard Paulina Santana knocked down back-to-back field goals from the top left of the key to bring the ‘Eaters within one. With 5:01 left in the second, junior guard Irene Chavez hit the first three-pointer of the night to tie the game at 23-23. The Anteaters then closed out the quarter on an 8-2 run, with six points fielded by Sutherland to take a 31-25 lead into the half.
The third quarter was a relatively low-scoring affair, with each team only scoring 10 points apiece, with a jumper in the paint by senior forward Dana Jones being the lone field goal scored for the first four minutes.
While UCI’s six-point lead at the half carried over into the fourth quarter, a late GCU run put the Antelopes up 55-49 with 38 seconds to go. GCU’s dominance on the boards was evident, as the Antelopes out-rebounded the Anteaters 13-9 in the fourth alone.
“The whole game, we couldn’t rebound the ball. They got chance after chance and they took advantage of it in the second half, and particularly the fourth quarter,” said Oliver. “We gave them too many opportunities. We don’t rebound the ball.”
At the 29-second mark, Santana once again took to the top left of the key — only this time from beyond the arc — to close to the deficit to 55-52 and give the Anteaters life. After trading a free throw with one another (56-53) and with 17 seconds left, the Anteaters came up with two offensive rebounds for consecutive three-point attempts that ultimately bore no fruit.
UCI will look to get back on the right track with a 7 p.m. matchup against No. 19 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion later today.