By Marvin Luu
What has proven to be a rocky season came to an end for the UC Irvine women’s basketball team (4-24, 1-13) Saturday at Walter Pyramid with a 67-49 loss against Long Beach State (21-7, 10-4).
Following the defeat, the ‘Eaters have officially concluded their 2016 road campaign with a 2-14 overall record. Their last victory—and sole Conference win—came back in January against Cal State Fullerton, a team that they are still jostling with for the final spot of the Big West Tournament.
UCI could not shake their offensive woes early in the game, which was an issue that has hung over the team for nearly the entirety of the season. In the first quarter, the ‘Eaters shot just 27.3 percent from the floor and failed to buy a basket for nearly seven minutes.
Meanwhile, the 49ers collectively converted half of their baskets and pushed out a 16-point lead that UCI would not be able to recover from despite outscoring Long Beach in the second quarter and scoring just four points lower than their opposition in the second half.
Freshman forward Jenny Dee provided a nice spark for UCI off the bench by posting a new career-high 13 points including two triples in the second period to cut the lead down to 12. On her fifth start of the season, freshman forward Tayla Jackson nearly became the first ‘Eater to finish with a double double by putting up nine points and nine rebounds.
Forward Madison Montgomery and Gigi Hascheff, who combined for 24 points on 5-15 shooting, led the 49ers.
Senior guard Raelyn Cheung-Sutton, who finished the game with six points and two assists, got the game started with a pair of jumpers to give the ‘Eaters their only lead in the game before 49ers guard Cecily Wilson and Montgomery jump started an offensive frenzy for over seven minutes before junior forward McKenzie Piper snapped the ‘Eaters’ cold streak with just 1:21 remaining in the period.
Dee and Jackson answered the early slump in the second quarter, but the 49ers had already established a sizable lead that was too great to overcome. Despite dropping 23.7 percent in shooting, Long Beach still held a 14-point advantage over UCI going into the second half.
After sitting for just 1:47, Dee entered the game and cracked open the third quarter with a triple. Dee went on to outscore the rest of UCI’s starting five with seven points.
At the 4:31 mark, Dee drew a foul and converted two free throws to bring the deficit down to 12 at 43-31.
From that point on, the 49ers would go on to control the rest of the game, resurging with an efficient fourth quarter to close out the game. After seeing their shooting dip to 29.4 percent in the third, Long Beach responded with a 46.2 percent outing, burying four of their seven shots from beyond the arc.
Having concluded their run on the road, the ‘Eaters will have a final two game stretch next week at the Bren Events Center where they will face UC Riverside on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and UC Davis on Saturday at 2:00 p.m.