Nov. 20, 2014
Highlanders 100 – Spartans 80
The undefeated women’s basketball team is showing signs of consistency, beating the San Jose State Spartans, 100-80, behind 34 points from Brittany Crain.
With the student section sparsely filled, one may not have known it was a school day. Students and loyal parents came to support their team. Some came with spouses, others brought their children, who would rather trade their mothers’ kisses for gummy worms than watch the game.
UCR took a decisive lead early on with an eight-point run from Highlanders Crain, Annelise Ito and Jaelyn Wilson. The trio seemed to be playing fluidly on the cold November afternoon, making sharp cuts, smooth shots and the occasional tough shot.
The Highlanders’ defense would not allow the Spartans more than two points for 13 minutes. The tables were turned after San Jose’s Rebecca Woodberry nailed a three-pointer at 12:20. She then hit another three-pointer shortly after, followed by a layup from San Jose’s Aniya Baker, who scored on a three-point opportunity, making it 19-13.
Statistically, San Jose shot the ball more than Riverside. The Spartans shot 31 three-pointers and 85 shots but were only 34.1 percent in field goals and 25.8 percent beyond the arc. The Highlanders on the other hand shot 14 three-pointers and 71 field goals, finishing with a 47.9 average in shots and a perfectly split 50 percent from the three-point line.
“Last game, they shot 53 free throws, and forced the other team to have 41 turnovers,” Head Coach John Margaritis said. “At times it looked like we weren’t playing defense, but I did not want to reach in. They’re fast and get a lot of three-point plays.”
The Highlanders came out of the second half with their heads held high, leading 47-37, one of them smiling even. San Jose on the other hand came out of the locker room stoic, ready to add more points to the board.
It was 47-40 at the start of the half in which the Spartans came out playing press defense. This caused several rushed and difficult shots for the Highlanders, but the team kept the lead for the remainder of the game.
The Highlanders played enough defense to keep them at bay, outscoring the team by 20 at the last buzzer, 100-80.
Crain led the team with a whopping 34 points and 15 rebounds, followed by Simone DeCoud who had 18 points and four assists and Ito who racked up 10 points before being sidelined after a collision in the second half.
For their next game, Margaritas plans to prepare with his assistant coaches on how to keep the streak going. “(We’ll) go back to practice tomorrow and go tonight and watch film,” he said. “The assistant coaches try to do the next opponent.”
Nov. 22, 2014
Highlanders 66 – Dons 53
On Saturday night, the women’s basketball team maintained their undefeated start by beating the San Francisco Dons, 66-53. Crain became the 16th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point club.
USF scored first from a layup from Taj Winston at 18:15. From there until midway of the first half, USF led 17-9. The Highlanders were three-for-15 from the field during the first nine minutes of the game, but Crain sunk a special three-pointer which made her the second-fastest player to reach 1,000 points in school history.
A shift in scoring occurred before the first half’s end, as UCR scored seven in a row to tie the game at 21. DeCoud scored two three-pointers to take the lead. USF’s Aundrea Gordon made two free throws to end the first half, 26-23.
In the second half, USF once again jumped to an early lead, 33-28, which was quickly answered by a jump shot from Ito and two jump shots from Crain, 33-33. The Highlanders then enjoyed a 12-0 run to lead 45-34, which eventually led to the university’s third win in a row, 66-53.
DeCoud led the Highlanders, knocking down five three-pointers for 21 points followed by Michelle Curry’s 14, Crain’s 16 and Ito’s six points.
The 3-0 start to the 2014-2015 season is the best in school history since joining Division I in 2001.
While most UCR students will be with their families on Thanksgiving, the women’s basketball team will buckle down for a Thanksgiving tournament in New Mexico. They face Stephen F. Austin University on Friday, Nov. 28.