The UCI Women’s Basketball team (12-3, 4-0) extended their winning streak to six games after defeating the CSU Fullerton Titans (6-8, 1-4), 57-39, at the Titan Gym on Wednesday, Jan. 11th.
Fullerton kicked off the game strong, putting up the first four points of the game from quick ball movement that forced the Anteater defense to shift and leave the Titans wide open for a shot. They kept up their energy with full court pressure as possessions switched.
The Anteaters got on the board after sophomore guard Hunter Hernandez hustled to collect the ball, firing a swift pass to junior forward/center Nevaeh Dean who found herself an open lane to cut through and finish at the basket.
The Titans gradually fell behind due to lack of patience, suffering seven turnovers midway through the first quarter after unnecessary shot attempts.
The first quarter ended 10-6 in favor of Irvine.
With possession of the ball, UCI resumed their fight in the paint as sophomore guard Olivia Williams noticed Dean planted at the low post ready for the pass. The center wrapped her leg behind the defender to drop step to the rim for two.
Fullerton had many opportunities at second chance points as they gained six offensive rebounds in the span of a minute, but failed to use them to their advantage.
With less than three minutes on the clock in the first half, the Titans made an effort to catch up to the ‘Eaters. In a daring play, freshman forward Allysan Tse drove in from the three to pump fake and hook a pass around her defender to junior center Ashlee Lewis, who laid the ball off the glass right into the hoop.
Despite this, Irvine remained in the lead 27-17 at the end of the second quarter with a field goal percentage of 41.4%.
The momentum of the third quarter sparked when Hernandez assisted Williams for her two-point shot a little over 30 seconds in. However, a huge change in momentum led to a five-minute scoring drought for the ‘Eaters.
After a back and forth on the scoreboard, Titans sophomore guard Una Jovanovic set her feet for a mid-range jumper that glided smoothly through the net, bringing the score deficit down to seven points, 26-33 in favor of the Anteaters.
This close gap did not last long as the ‘Eaters found easy baskets to end the third quarter up by 11 points, 37-26.
Although Fullerton navigated their way around Irvine’s defense, the Titans failed to finish at the basket for easy points. Even so, Jovanovic gained six points from two three-point buckets, refusing to let her team go down without a fight.
Hernandez abruptly found her rhythm towards the end of the game, adding 11 points solely from the fourth quarter to her stats, alongside sophomore guard Amelia Scharpf who contributed two baskets. They helped the Anteaters close out the game with a 57-39 victory.
Hernandez led the Anteaters in scoring with an impressive 14 points and eight rebounds. Dean also helped contribute to the Anteater victory, scoring 12 points and pulling down three rebounds. On the other side, Lewis boosted the Titans, collecting a similarly-impressive 14 points and three rebounds.
The win helped continue UCI’s undefeated start to Big West conference play and improved their winning streak to six games.
Jazlyn Flores is a Sports Staff Writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.