Despite putting the clamps down defensively, the UC Irvine women’s basketball team (3-15, 1-3) suffered through an off shooting night at Titan Gym Saturday evening, resulting in a 64-53 loss to Cal State Fullerton (4-13, 1-3).
UCI did not give up anything easy to the Titans, forcing 23 turnovers, 16 of which they had picked away. The ‘Eaters also produced 30 points off those miscues while giving up 18 of their own. UCI also held Fullerton to just 36.7 percent from the floor and 26.7 percent from downtown.
On the other side of the floor, however, UCI could not find their shot, shooting just 33.3 percent from the field and 21.1 percent from three.
With both teams struggling to find the basket, the Titans would utilize the free throw line—where they had found the most success converting 92.3 percent of their attempts—to pull away.
Leading by three (46-43) to open the third, the Titans would go on to score half of their 18 points at the charity stripe to ultimately ice the ‘Eaters and the game.
For the third straight game, Sophomore guard Andee Ritter led the ‘Eaters, putting up 13 points—10 of which came in the third period.
Senior forward Shereen Sutherland added nine points and eight rebounds as fellow starting forward Sabrina Engelstad dropped in 12 points, six rebounds, and two blocks. Engelstad struggled to stay on the court, however, fouling out after 28 minutes of action. It is the third contest that Engelstad has made an early exit from the contest.
Fullerton found the majority of their offense through sophomore center Daeja Smith and sophomore guard Jade Vega, who combined for 21 points, 11 and 10 respectively.
The ‘Eaters started the game well as junior guard Tierra Hicks (eight points, four rebounds, and three steals) drained a triple that kicked off a 11-6 run to start the first period of action. However, UCI would hit a three minute dry spell that allowed Fullerton to pull back and momentarily go up by two, 13-11, before an Engelstad lay-up knotted the game right back up.
In the second quarter, freshman guard Brooke Bayman (six points and seven assists) broke Fullerton’s opening set with a steal and lay-in to put the ‘Eaters up by a basket as three subsequent Engelstad jumpers extended UCI’s advantage at 21-13 with 6:06.
Almost in the exact same fashion as the first period, UCI hit a three-minute period where they could not by a basket, allowing the Titans to steadily pace back into the game.
Following a Smith lay-up, Fullerton began drawing fouls on the ‘Eaters, scoring six of their next nine points at the line.
With just five seconds left, Fullerton capped the quarter with a basket to earn a 26-24 lead.
UCI’s offensive woes did not improve in the second half as their shooting dipped from 38.5 percent to 29.7 (33.3 percent to 10.0 from three).
While the Titans did not shoot particularly well either, they did begin to find some answers offensively. After Hicks momentarily by splitting pair of free throws and converting a layup on a Bayman steal, the Titans powered with a progress 12-2 run that stretched across nearly four minutes of action.
Now trailing by 11, 38-29, Sutherland hit a jumper as the game went dead silent for both teams, without a single converted basket for the next three minutes.
Ritter would then go off, scoring 10 straight points for the ‘Eaters to bring the deficit down to three, 41-44.
The final ten minutes, however, would be determined at the free throw line.
After the ‘Eaters made a single field goal, courtesy of a Sutherland lay-up with 8:40 to go, UCI witnessed their longest drought of the night.
As UCI failed to find a basket until the 5:16 minute mark on Bayman free throws, Fullerton cashed in four from the line and paced out the rest of the period from the same spot.
With Fullerton stripping UCI’s opportunity to string together a pair of back to back victories, the ‘Eaters will have to battle to return on the winning column when they return to the Bren next Thursday to host UC Riverside at 7:00pm.