The UC Irvine Women’s Basketball team (13-7, 11-3) won 79-70 against Long Beach State (11-8, 10-7) on March 5 at the Bren Events Center.
After coming off a win against UC San Diego last week, the Anteaters brought the heat against Long Beach State University (LBSU) with vigorous defense and offense. Redshirt freshman guards Kayla Williams and Chloe Webb displayed their shooting skills as they were two of the top shooters by the end of the game.
At tipoff, the Anteaters grasped the first possession of the night, attempting to create an unmatched pace to set LBSU on a rocky start. However, both teams were uneasy in the first quarter as they rushed their shots in an attempt to gain quick momentum. This led to empty back-and-forth plays until Long Beach made the first shot two minutes into the game, 2-0.
UCI responded with clever offensive tactics as they passed in the paint and frequently kept the ball in motion, allowing the Anteaters to tie up the game in their next possession. Turnovers remained a consistent issue on both ends of the floor, making this a neck-to-neck battle across the court.
Despite this, UCI bumped the lead, 9-7, after sophomore guard Jayde Cadee splashed a three with five minutes left. Irvine found their rhythm as Webb extended the lead, 14-7, with a minute left to play extended the lead.
The Anteaters played tough defense as well, denying LBSU to get any easy passes in. By the end of the quarter, UCI led 17-9 after senior guard Haleigh Talbert sank a three in the last 10 seconds.
Straight into the second quarter, Williams scored a three, increasing Irvine’s lead, 21-9. However, LBSU began closing the gap with redshirt junior forward Naomi Hunt and freshman guard Patricia Chung and trailed only by two points, 24-22, with less than five minutes remaining.
With unfaltering offense, Williams and Webb prospered with an array of shots to obtain their large lead again. Talbert also contributed to this exemplifying great defense. With 11 seconds left of the first half, senior guard Dani Guglielmo shot a three which ended the quarter with a score of 33-30, the Beach not far behind.
Beginning in the second half, UCI had 12 turnovers whilst LBSU had 11. The game was equally matched and was anyone’s for the taking.
Williams and Webb stepped up once more as they excelled in their shotmaking, bringing the lead 45-39 with 6:30 on the clock. Back-to-back across the field, both teams rallied, unable to make a shot until Hunt sunk a three. Fortunately, UCI’s Cadee matched that energy. Ending the third quarter, UCI finished 58-51, pulling ahead of LBSU.
The last quarter of the game was another great outcome for UCI with steals, shots and overall amazing offense and defense. Webb had her first steal of the game and Guglielmo drained a number of threes. After a high-quality basketball game with UCI shooting 48% and LBSU 42%, Webb was the top shooter of the night with 21 points and the Anteaters won with a final score of 79-70.
UCI head coach Tamara Inoue spoke about the strong lead the team held and what they did well against the Beach postgame.
“We did a good job of sharing the ball, being patient and moving it from side-to-side,” Coach Inoue said. “When we didn’t do that, we got in trouble, so I’m proud of them for making those adjustments.”
Coach Inoue also talked about the leading scorer Webb.
“Chloe is powerful, and it’s hard to guard someone like that because she is so strong and makes it look so easy,” Coach Inoue said. “Her strength alone is what gets her across the line.”
Williams also spoke out on the team’s offensive performance and what it was that allowed them to get the win.
“Everybody was ready to go today,” Williams said. “It is senior week so we all wanted to play for one another. But, everyone was ready for the moment; when the ball came to them, they were ready to knock it down.”
The UCI women’s basketball team played Long Beach one more time on March 6 and lost 80-62.
Malia Nazario is a staff writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.