The past few months have been incredibly difficult for the UCR women’s basketball team. Wining only two of their first 18 games, the Highlanders were quickly becoming the worst team in the Big West conference. That all changed Thursday night when the women’s basketball team beat the UCI Anteaters in an away trip for UC Riverside’s second straight victory.
Scoring a game-high 24 points, Tre’Shonti Nottingham led the Highlanders to a 70-67 victory over their conference opponent. This marked only the third time all season that UCR scored at least 70 points in a game.
The Anteaters went into the game as the second-seeded team in the Big West standings. UCI opened up the game with a 13-4 run to take a nine-point advantage over the Highlanders after just eight minutes of action. UCR’s Natasha Hadley scored a jumper to cut it to six and Nottingham followed that with a three to cut the lead to just four. In the following procession, Nottingham drew a foul and drilled in two free-throws to cut the UCI advantage to just two points. Both teams traded shots after that point and at the end of one half, the Anteaters led by just a single point.
UCI jumped out to a seven-point lead early in the second half as they led by a score of 38-31. The Highlanders scored the next six to cut the lead to just one. After a layup by Nottingham, the Highlanders took their first lead of the second half with a score of 43-42.
It was a tightly contested game throughout. With just 2:22 remaining in regulation, the score was tied up at 63 points. Nottingham’s layup gave her team a small three-point advantage late in the game. UCI had multiple opportunities to retake the lead, but they fell just short. It became a free-throw game in the closing seconds as UCR attempted seven shots from the charity stripe to seal the victory. UCI had one last chance to tie it, but Anete Klintsone’s three was missed at the buzzer and UCR walked away with a 70-67 road win over UCI.
Nottingham led all scorers with 24 points and added seven rebounds for UC Riverside. Natasha Hadley scored 15 for the Highlanders and grabbed six boards. Brittany Palmer gave the Highlanders some much-needed help off the bench as she scored 14 points of her own on 7-15 shooting. The Highlanders shot just 38.7 percent from the floor and only 7.7 percent from beyond the arc, but grabbed a total of 18 offensive rebounds to make up for the missed shots. UCR had a solid defensive effort as the team held the Anteaters to 40.7 percent from the floor.
UC Riverside’s overall record now stands at 4-16 while its conference record improves to 2-6. The Highlanders earned two straight victories for the fist time all season. UCR will try to win its third straight for the first time since March of 2011 as they will take on the Cal State Northridge Matadors on Feb. 2 at the Student Recreation Center.