Still looking for their first win in the Tamara Inoue era, the UC Irvine women’s basketball team (0-6) could not get it done last weekend at the LMU Thanksgiving Classic. The ‘Eaters took on home team LMU (2-4) of the West Coast Conference on Friday and the Mountain West’s Fresno State (3-2) on Saturday.
UCI was defeated by the hosting Lions 58-39 at the Gersten Pavilion, after falling behind 21-3 in the first quarter. The ‘Eaters stopped the bleeding in the later stages behind a strong double-double performance from junior forward Sabrina Engelstad, who finished with 11 points and 14 boards, leading the team in both categories.
Freshman Brooke Bayman followed Engelstad with eight points of her own, while senior Irene Chavez dotted the stat sheet with six points, three rebounds and three assists.
Turnovers killed the ‘Eaters in their first game of the Classic, committing 22 to LMU’s 15. The Lions were able to tally 22 points off the ‘Eaters’ errors while UCI failed to capitalize, converting only four points off their opponents mistakes.
UCI held their own down low, with senior Shereen Sutherland grabbing eight rebounds to bolster Engelstad’s effort en route to a 42-37 rebound advantage over the Lions.
Abysmal outside shooting compounded the failure to take care of the ball in the loss, as UCI shot 10 percent from three (2-20), despite sophomore Andee Ritter knocking one down on the first possession of the game.
The lone three-ball turned out to be UCI’s only points of the first period as LMU ripped off a 21-0 run.
The ‘Eaters broke the streak and scored the first four points of the second quarter and traded buckets with the Lions, coming as close as 29-15 midway through. 14 points was the narrowest margin UCI would see for the rest of the outing, as LMU widened the gap to 38-17 by halftime.
UCI closed it back up to 18 in the third quarter, but failed to gain momentum going into the fourth down 53-29.
The final stanza went to the ‘Eaters as they locked down the Lions, limiting them to only five points. Freshman Mylah Andrada contributed the first points of her collegiate career with the second team three-ball at the 7:40 mark, helping to cut the deficit under 20 for the 58-39 final.
The ‘Eaters definitely missed the presence of their second leading scorer junior Teirra Hicks, who exited the game in the second quarter and did not return.
With Hicks still out and senior Mckenzie Piper out for the game as well, the ‘Eaters could not contend with Fresno State for the full forty minutes in the second game of the weekend, falling 63-45 at the hands of the Bulldogs.
Sutherland flirted with double-double territory as she paced the ‘Eaters with 12 points to go with nine rebounds, giving her at least eight rebounds in five of the six games to start the season. Engelstad posted 10 points in her encore performance, her fourth-straight game in double figures.
Senior Brittany Glassow chipped in a season-high six points, eight rebounds and three assists while Chavez led the way with five assists and contributed five points of her own.
UCI hung tough in a first half that saw five ties and six lead changes. The ‘Eaters took an 8-7 lead late in the first quarter in a defensive showdown but trailed by one 12-11 as the period ended with a half-court bank shot from the Bulldogs at the buzzer.
The score stayed level until the closing minutes of the second when Fresno State went on a 12-2 tear before three Glassow free throws cut the lead to seven at the break 30-23.
After an Engelstad layup opened the second half scoring, the ‘Eaters were mired in a seven-minute stretch with no points while the Bulldogs continued to score in bunches, pulling even further ahead 43-30 by the end of the period.
Sutherland and the rest of the ‘Eaters got hot in the fourth pouring in 15 points on 54 percent shooting, but could not cool off Fresno State who responded by scoring 20 in the final frame on the way to the 63-45 final score.
UCI was narrowly outrebounded 37-34, and could not quite match the Bulldogs’ points in the paint, posting 26 to Fresno State’s 32. UCI was able to clean up their outside shooting and ball possession issues marginally but still gave up 20 points off turnovers and will need to knock down a higher percentage of their threes to keep up with opponents, although Ritter continued her three-ball streak with at least one in every game this season.
Two more games on the road await UCI at Nevada on Dec. 1 and at Portland State on Dec. 3 before returning to the friendly confines of the Bren for a seven-game homestand.