Last minute victory for UCI women’s basketball against Cal State Fullerton

Written and photographed

by Maud Charlet

UC Irvine’s women’s basketball team won on home court, beating Cal State Fullerton 65-61 on Saturday, Feb. 9. The score remained tight until the last 90 seconds of the game. With a minute and a half left on the clock, Fullerton looked to take the win as they led 60-58, but UCI’s forward Tahlia Garza, scored two points and allowed the Eaters to tie up the game. Eight seconds before the end of the game, Forward Jordan Sanders made a jump shot off of a pass from Guard Lauren Saiki following a successful free throw out of two for Fullerton. Guards Andee Ritter and Haleigh Talbert sealed the score with three successful free throws right before time expired.

Initially, this victory would have not been predicted. The Eaters started the game with difficulties, failing to realize or recognize shot opportunities, shooting poorly and making surprising defensive mistakes. The women of Fullerton showed great communication on the court agreeing on strategies and being aggressive in front of a team that was slow to build. Titans forward Carolyn Gill was particularly productive, ending the game with 18 rebounds.

The second half of the game proved to be better for the Anteaters. UCI calmed their confusion on the court and improved their speed and technicity while Fullerton seemed lost.

“Our coach picked us up. We picked each other up and we tried to clean up everything that was going very well,” said forward Jordan Sanders.

The audience saw Brooke Bayman’s game change as well. The guard who played slow during most of the game defended higher on court. UCI’s defensive efforts in the second half forced Fullerton to commit unnecessary turnovers, drawing the ire of their coach. UCI’s team captain Lauren Saiki galvanized the team’s offense early in the third quarter. Sanders served an important role in the game, scoring 18 points in total, two of which came at the very end of the game, giving UCI the lead. According to Sanders, UCI women’s basketball team needs “to start out a lot better than [they] did for these past two past games and start picking it up earlier and not waiting till the end.” Coach Tamara Inoue, who has been with the team for three years, thought her team “let it up” defensively which made the second half really hard. But Inoue observed her players kept pushing until the end of the game, especially in the fourth quarter. Inoue said her team is going to work on “making sure to get shot under pressure” and “getting open shots” before next game on Feb.14 against Long Beach State.