UC Irvine women’s basketball (4-22, 2-10) battled through 45 minutes of action to break an eight game winless drought Saturday evening against Cal Poly (10-15, 6-7), 74-71, at the Mott Athletics Center.
Four of the UCI’s five starters logged over 43 minutes in the victory as five different ‘Eaters registered double digit scoring numbers.
Senior forward Shereen Sutherland led the pack, garnering a double double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman guard Irene Chavez and senior guard Brooke Bayman recorded season-highs with 17 points apiece as sophomore guard Andee Ritter contributed 11 points.
Two days removed from having a career night with 18 points, senior forward Brittany Glassow added 10 points and seven rebounds in her second straight start in conference play.
Cal Poly was paced by one half of their twin duo in junior guard Dynn Leaupepe, who finished with a game-high 25 points. Senior forward Hannah Gilbert also stirred a lot of trouble for the ‘Eaters in the paint, filling the stat sheet with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and six steals.
UCI outshot the Mustangs, 46-37 percent from the floor, 39-22 percent from three, and 85-62 percent from the line. The ‘Eaters also saw a surge in effort from the rebounding category, matching Cal Poly’s 40 rebounds with 40 of their own.
The ‘Eaters broke out on a 7-4 run to start the contest and managed to maintain the lead for the better part of the quarter, but Leaupepe got on a roll, scoring seven points to help the Mustangs claim a 20-15 advantage.
In the second frame, UCI buckled down defensively, allowing just two Mustang baskets in the first seven minutes of the quarter. Meanwhile, a Sutherland lay-in, triple from Glassow, and a pair of free throws from Ritter knotted the game up at 22-22.
With 6:58 to go before the half, a Chavez triple allowed the ‘Eaters to reclaim the lead at 25-22.
UCI continued their 19-4 run on the next few possessions that were capped off by a pair of Chavez free throws that extended the lead to 10, 34-24.
However, the Mustangs found some momentum behind junior forward Emily Anderson, who scored Cal Poly’s next five points that would blossom into nine unanswered to cut the deficit to one, 34-33.
Cal Poly came out of the second half as the dominant team who had won their last three games—including a slug out against Long Beach State.
Leaupepe and Gilbert put the Mustangs on their backs, scoring all of their team’s 15 points in the period alone. Gilbert went a perfect 3-3 from the field and 2-5 from the line for eight points. As Leaupepe overturned the lead into Cal Poly’s favor, two of Gilbert’s three baskets would help buffer the advantage at 41-38.
The ‘Eaters, however, were more than ready to fight back.
As Leaupepe and Gilbert put up big numbers for the Mustangs, Bayman emerged as an aggressive force for the ‘Eaters, taking up eight points of her own. At the 5:58 mark, the Sierra high product broke Cal Poly’s defense down and swept in for a lay-in that brought UCI back within one. Her subsequent triple would give the ‘Eaters a lead that they held onto until the two minute mark.
When a Gilbert tip in equalized the score for the seventh time on the night, a Ritter triple—her sole three-pointer on the night—gave UCI a slight 49-48 advantage heading into the final frame.
Both teams then grappled through a tough fourth period that saw to two more ties. UCI came out swinging on a 9-2 run to give the ‘Eaters a 58-50 lead with a little over six minutes left in regulation.
But Cal Poly would not go away as Anderson knocked down a triple that fueled five more Mustang points to tie the game up, 58-58.
With 54 seconds left, Sutherland drew a foul and knocked down two clutch free throws, but Lynn Leaupepe, who had a quiet night with just seven points, drained a mid-range jumper to force overtime.
In their first extra time period since 2015, the ‘Eaters did not show any signs of the jitters.
After opening the next five minutes trading shot for shot with the Mustangs, Glassow squared up and sent in her third triple of the evening—enough to squeeze the ‘Eaters out front by two, 66-64, with 2:17 to go.
That was all UCI needed however, as the ‘Eaters would not give up the lead for the rest of the period, picking up a hard earned victory—just their fourth overall and second in conference play.
The ‘Eaters will attempt to carry their momentum home when they host Hawai’i Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7:00pm in the Bren Events Center.