Feb. 2, 2012
Matadors 64 – Highlanders 58

Riding a two-game winning streak, the UCR women’s basketball team looked to make it three straight for the first time all year. It turned out to be a tough mountain to climb for the Highlanders as the league-leading Cal State Northridge Matadors earned a come-from-behind victory over UCR this past Thursday. The Highlanders led early in the game, but the Matadors climbed their way back into it and eventually took the 64-58 win from the Highlanders.

The Highlanders played flawlessly in the first half of the match. Leading by a whopping score of 11-1 after just five minutes into the game, UCR look poised to win it easily. Layups and jumpers extended the UCR lead to 14 at 19-5. Whenever the Matadors made a run, the Highlanders quickly responded as they were unwilling to give up their double-digit advantage. UCR played with the same consistent energy throughout the half and led by 13 points at the end of the first period.

Both teams played an evenly matched game early in the second. The Matadors attempted to close the gap, but the Highlanders refused to give in. A layup UCR put the Highlanders up by 11 points, 45-34.

That turned out to be the final time the Highlanders led by more than 10. The  Matadors scored  two free-throws, a jumper and two straight layups to cut the Highlander lead to just a single point. UCR’s Tre’Shonti Nottingham attempted to end the run with a jump shot, but ended up missing it. The Matadors’ Janae Sharpe made a layup to give her team its first lead of the game at 48-47.

The run did not end there. Northridge continued to attack the basket and built its lead to 10 at 59-49 to complete an incredible 25-4 run. The Highlanders ran out of time and could not get back into it. UCR ended up losing the game by a final score of 64-58.

Feb. 4, 2012
Highlanders 75 – 49ers 71

Following the tough loss to Northridge, the Highlanders looked to get back on track with a win over the Long Beach State 49ers. Solid performances by Tre’Shonti Nottingham and Natasha Hadley propelled the Highlanders to a victory as UCR won the game by a score of 75-71

Similar to the previous game, the Highlanders built a comfortable lead in the first half, but watched it evaporate in the second. After Brittany Palmer’s buzzer-beating jumper gave UCR a 19-point lead at the half, the Highlanders went into the second period with a lack of intensity. UCR’s lead dwindled down to single digits by the middle of the second period. Wanting to avoid a second letdown in a row, Riverside’s focus appeared to grow as the team withstood the 49ers’ late run to lead it by a comfortable margin.

It was a two-possession game with just under a minute to go and the Highlanders were in a great position to win it. However, the 49ers remained resilient and cut the lead to just four with a layup. A few seconds later, Long Beach stole the ball and converted on another layup to cut the lead to just two points at 73-71.

Avoiding another collapse, Tre’Shonti Nottingham received the ball and drew a foul to try to seal the win with just over five second remaining in regulation. Nottingham was clutch at the charity stripe and converted on both free-throws to put the game out of reach and win it with a score of 75-71.

After surviving a late rally, Head Coach John Margaritis commented on his team’s second-half lapse. “It was a tale of two halves,” he said. “We can’t be that good and that bad all in the same day. Obviously, we need to be able to sustain a level [where] we can compete with our opponents. So maybe that’s the next part of our growth process.”

Nottingham led all scorers with 20 points and added 10 boards and five assists. Natasha Hadley scored 16 for her team on 6-10 shooting.

UCR will travel to Stockton, CA to take on the Pacific Tigers on Feb. 9 in hopes of improving their record.