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UCI Women’s Basketball Cruise To Opening Day 98-33 Victory Over Whittier College

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The UCI Women’s Basketball team (1-0) defeated Whittier College (0-1) 98-33 at the Bren Events Center on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

The Anteaters took an early commanding lead over the Poets, which they expanded on as the game progressed. Five ‘Eaters finished with double digits scoring, with sophomore guard Déja Lee leading the team with 16.

Neither side held back, as junior guard Diaba Konate demonstrated by hitting an early three pointer for the ‘Eaters. However, she was subbed out shortly after, picking up two quick fouls.

Meanwhile, Whittier College ran their offense through sophomore guard Rhe Nae Leach, who led the team in scoring with 15 points. She handled the majority of the ball and was heavily involved in the first half offense.

The floor general for the Anteaters was sophomore guard Nikki Tom who finished the night with 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Irvine dominated the glass in maneuvers, out-rebounding the Poets 56-27. This was exemplified late in the first quarter when Lee got up to grab the offensive rebound and finished with a quick putback.

The ‘Eaters finished the night with 25 second chance points — a stark difference to Whittier who failed to record any.

UCI started to break away with a lead in the second quarter, leading with two quick three-pointers from sophomore guard Olivia Williams. Tough Irvine defense forced an offensive struggle from Whittier, which caused the Poets to force up a lot of tough shots right before the shot clock expired.

Right before the end of the second quarter, a nice hustle play from Tom gave the Anteaters an open fastbreak chance, where Tom dished it to sophomore guard Amelia Scharpf for an open three. The three-pointer gave the ‘Eaters a 43-26 halftime advantage.

The Anteaters came out of halftime dominating the third quarter, not allowing a single point from Whittier. With Leach on the bench for most of the second half, Whittier found difficulty creating shots and driving to the basket. 

The presence of 6’2 junior center Nevaeh Dean made it even tougher for Whittier to get to the paint and grab rebounds. With 8:45 left to go in the 3rd quarter, Dean grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled on the putback attempt, knocking down both free throws to give the Anteaters a 47-26 lead. 

UCI graduate forward Nyagoa Gony was also a workforce on the glass as she tallied another ‘Eater offensive rebound, before dishing it back out to graduate forward Naomi Hunt for a three.

The fourth quarter wasn’t much kinder to the Poets as the ‘Eatersoutscored them 29-7.

Lee found plenty of space cutting to the basket for layups while Dean locked down the paint on the defensive end. The strong team effort on both ends of the floor led the Anteaters to a 98-33 victory.

The Anteaters traveled to Sacramento State for a matchup with the Hornets on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. The game was streamed on ESPN+ and the live stats can be viewed here.

Miguel Rodriguez is a Sports Intern for the fall 2022 quarter. He can be reached at miguer9@uci.edu.