By Marvin Luu
After managing to score just eight points in two quarters, the UC Irvine women’s basketball team (4-23, 1-12) dropped their fifth straight road game, 13th on the season, Thursday night against UC Santa Barbara (11-17, 8-6), 66-37.
In their first meeting against the Gauchos this year, UCI had conceded 18 points for an 80-62 loss at the Bren Events Center.
It has been a troubling year for the ‘Eaters who have fallen in double digits to their opposition in their last seven contests.
UCI had been iced out offensively for the majority of the game. Of the 12 active players who had checked into the game, only seven managed to record baskets. No body scored in double figures.
Freshman guard Andrea Ritter found the hot hand in the third, scoring all of her nine points in the period to top the ‘Eaters in the respective category. Junior forward McKenzie Piper converted half her shots to contribute eight baskets in 17 minutes.
UCI came out with a poised effort in the opening period, answering UC Santa Barbara’s baskets. For the first five minutes, the Gauchos could not manage to pull away with a margin greater than five. At the 4:51 mark, Piper ran the length of the floor after securing a defensive rebound to put in a lay-up that tied the score at eight. From that point on, the Gauchos bolted out on a 13-2 run that extended into a 15-4 spurt to open the second quarter.
Following a basket from freshman forward Tayla Jackson, the ‘Eaters were held scoreless for nearly eight minutes of the 10 minute period. At the half, the Gauchos had brought their lead up to 23.
Senior guard Raelyn Cheung-Sutton and Ritter came out of the half with a combined 13 points in an attempt to close in on the lead, but the first half dry spell had spoiled UCI’s chances of retaking the game.
Sophomore forward Paulina Santana managed to put in two jumpers before the Gauchos walked out the clock for their eighth victory in the Conference play.
Despite the loss, the ‘Eaters are still tie for the last spot for the impending Big West Tournament with Cal State Fullerton, who also dropped their last game against Hawai’i. If the conference ends with both teams holding a single victory over one another, a coin flip will determine who will advance into post-season play.
UCI will have an opportunity to avoid the prospects of a coin flip in their remaining three games this year, starting with their final road trip to Long Beach this Saturday for a 12:30pm tip off at Walter Pyramid.