Brittany Crain scored 29 points and the Highlanders drew 36 fouls to defeat Santa Clara 80-69 on Friday night.
Competing at the same time as the homecoming bonfire on campus, UCR women’s basketball didn’t let a lack of crowd attendance affect them as the Highlanders opened up a 22-16 lead behind two silky-smooth three-pointers from Crain.
Santa Clara exploited its one obvious advantage over the Highlanders: size. Though they constantly focused on generating offense inside the paint, UCR was simply too good from behind the arc. The team made five-of-10 three-point field goals in the half, three of which came from Crain, to lead 40-28.
The Highlanders maintained their advantage in the second half until the Broncos made a late-game push, cutting the lead to just three points at 59-56 with six minutes left in the game. A fast break layup by Simone DeCoud then put the Highlanders up by six points. UC Riverside was never in trouble again, eventually beating the Broncos 80-69.
Crain led all scorers, pouring in 29 points while converting on 10 of 12 free throws with eight rebounds. DeCoud chipped in 19 points and freshman Michelle Curry scored 11 points in her UCR debut.
“I thought we played really hard. Santa Clara is a good team,” Head Coach John Margaritis stated. “They were superior in height inside. At halftime, they had as many offensive rebounds as we had defensive rebounds. It was hard to defend them. We had to overplay to be able to defend them inside, but I thought we played really hard and it was a team effort.”
UC Riverside was outrebounded 53-43 in the game, but converted 22 points off of turnovers.
Playing undersized will be a struggle for the Highlanders all season. Starting center Natasha Hadley graduated and forwards Jamila Williams and Jazzmeen Williams will be unable to play this season due to injury and NCAA transfer rules.
The women’s basketball team remains at home to face off against San Jose State on Nov. 20.