UCI Turned Back at the Beach

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Sophomore guard Andee Ritter and senior guard Irene Chavez put up 41 points (21 and 20 respectively), shooting a combined 14-29 and 12-23 from beyond the arc, but the UC Irvine women’s basketball team (4-24, 2-12) could not stop Long Beach State (11-3, 20-9) at the other end as the ‘Eaters dropped their second straight contest, 87-74, Saturday night at Walter Pyramid.

The 49ers shot 54 percent from the field, 52 percent from three, and 53 percent from the charity stripe. In a strong first half, Long Beach converted 63 percent of their shots and capitalized on 16 ‘Eater miscues to put UCI behind by 20 before the break.

UCI also struggled in the battle from within the paint where they were outrebounded (34-27) and outscored (32-16).

Coming out of the halftime break, the ‘Eaters powered back with a much more inspired effort. Ritter and Chavez scored 33 of their 41 points as freshman guard Brooke Bayman added nine points — finishing the game with 13 — for her fifth straight double-digit scoring game.

Collectively, UCI knocked down 15 triples — a new program record for triples made in a single season game — while also cleaning up their ball control and were much more patient offensively, committing just three turnovers while gathering 12 assists, but Long Beach’s lead would be too steep of a mountain to climb as UCI’s improved play would come just a little too late.

The 49ers found their rhythm on the opening tip with senior forward Jewelyn Sawyer scoring a quick lay-in that sparked an 8-0 run. Chavez got the ‘Eaters on the board with a jumper, but Long Beach continued their offensive onslaught.

Six different 49ers scored with senior Anna Kim putting up all seven of her points for the night in the first frame to help bury the ‘Eaters behind a 22-10 deficit.

Junior guard Jessica Gertz, who paced Long Beach with 17 points on 5-8 shooting, extended the 49ers’ lead to 19 — their largest of the game at the moment — with 7:22 remaining before the half.

Consecutive layups from Bayman and senior forward Shereen Sutherland, who was held to those very two points in ten minutes of action, made a small dent but the 49ers stamped out a 19-2 run — a period where they hit five triples within four minutes — to close out the half with a 50-20 advantage.

UCI’s three point shooting would breath some life into the ‘Eaters’ momentum into the second half.

In the third, Ritter hit half of the ‘Eaters six triples in the period as Chavez came up big in the fourth when she sent in five triples of her own, three of which came within a two minute frame.

The ‘Eater’s impressive long range shooting did nothing, however, to prevent Long Beach from riding out their 87-74 victory that they had long secured.

Despite picking up two consecutive losses, UCI will head into their final week of Big West play in the eighth spot.

They will attempt to stay in that position when they head to Santa Barbara this Thursday before returning home to host Cal State Fullerton–who is currently fighting for that very eighth spot against the ‘Eaters–for senior night on Saturday for a 2:00 p.m. tip.

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