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HomeSportsBasketballUC Irvine Women’s Basketball Defeats Hawai’i in Intense Overtime Match, 68-66

UC Irvine Women’s Basketball Defeats Hawai’i in Intense Overtime Match, 68-66

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The UC Irvine Women’s Basketball team (22-5, 14-2) defeated the University of Hawai’i at Manoa Rainbow Wahine (11-7, 13-14), 68-66, in a crucial overtime victory at the Bren Events Center on Saturday, Feb. 25. 

Both teams entered the match with strong intensity levels that remained consistent in the first quarter. Hawai’i performed impressively on defense, ensuring every player was matched up with an opponent, lowering the chances of Irvine taking open shots. On the other side of the court, the Rainbow Wahine made straight, firm passes to one another to minimize turnovers and hit four triples with ease. 

Irvine navigated their way through the Rainbow Wahine defense by setting solid off-ball screens. After some ball penetration, the Anteaters created space for sophomore guard Amelia Scharpf, who banked in an open three from the left wing. 

The game stayed close all throughout the first quarter, but Hawai’i gained an advantage after sophomore guard Daejah Phillips snatched an offensive rebound that she dimed to freshman forward Imani Perez for a layup at the buzzer, 18-15. 

The start of the second quarter was an ongoing seesaw battle. Irvine’s defense struggled to turn the ball over as the Rainbow Wahine confidently dribbled to the hoop to draw fouls or seek teammates calling for the ball. As the quarter continued, the Anteaters adjusted to Hawai’i’s offense and translated incoming passes into steals. 

UCI took the lead by two points after three-pointers from sophomore guard Deja Lee and junior guard Diaba Konate, 27-25. Not too long after, Hawai’i sophomore guard Meilani McBee bumped Hawai’i right back into the lead with a mid-range jumper from inside the key. 

With a minute to spare, Konate received the ball from junior forward/center Nevaeh Dean for some give-and-go action. Konate baited in a double-team, leaving Dean wide open for two under the basket. 

The game went into halftime in favor of Irvine, 29-28. 

Resuming after the break, the Anteaters scored six unanswered points in under two minutes, including Scharpf’s aggressive take from the corner for a hook shot layup, putting them up 35-30. The spark in intensity put pressure on Hawai’i, resulting in four missed shots out of only six attempts in the first five minutes. 

Irvine’s lead stretched to nine points after Konate traveled coast-to-coast to find sophomore guard Nikki Tom trailing for the pass. Tom jump-stopped behind the arc and added a three to the scoreboard, 41-32. 

After a quick timeout, the Anteaters decided to switch to a 2-3 zone defense. The Rainbow Wahine used this to their advantage, converting open threes from Phillips and graduate forward Kallin Spiller. 

Irvine kept their lead through the end of third quarter with second chance points from junior forward/center Nevaeh Parkinson and multiple trips to the charity stripe, 47-42. 

UCI remained the top scorers in a messy start to the final quarter, until Hawai’i’s McBee crept up on Irvine with three triples and a jump shot to tie the match with four minutes remaining, 53-53.

The score continued to fluctuate with Irvine in the lead, but Hawai’i was saved once again with another jumper from McBee to tie the match and send the game into overtime at 58-58. 

Parkinson opened the extra quarter with an and-one after putting up an offensive rebound and converted on the extra free throw. Tom extended the Anteater lead with a three-pointer from the wing, 64-60. 

The Rainbow Wahine reclaimed the lead after two possessions, resulting in triples with two minutes left on the clock. Shortly after, Scharpf answered with a shot in the paint to tie it right back up at 66-66. 

With 1.4 seconds left on the clock, Lee inbounded the ball for UCI to find Parkinson posted right below the basket, drilling a layup to close out the match and give the Anteaters a close 68-66 victory. 

A hard-fought double-double from Parkinson and 14 points from Tom assisted the Anteaters in the head-to-head battle. Hawai’i’s McBee had a game-high 23 points, including 15 from three. 

Jazlyn Flores is a Sports Staff Writer. She can be reached at jazlynpf@uci.edu.