In a half that can only be described as an old-fashioned shootout, the women’s basketball team went shot for shot against the Cal State Northridge Matadors in a first half that saw both squads post 36 points apiece. But it was the Highlanders who couldn’t keep up the pace in the second as the Matadors’ dribble penetration dismantled UCR’s defense in an 88-70 thumping.
Cal State Northridge, who moved into second place in the Big West after the victory, started out the contest with unmatchable pace. They enacted full-court pressure defense from the opening whistle. A defensive board turned into a layup attempt within a matter of seconds. UCR responded, however, with the fifth-leading scorer in the nation, Brittany Crain, knocking down three consecutive three-pointers to aid her team sustain a whirlwind of offensive and defensive play from the Matadors.
As the halftime buzzer rang out in the hollow Student Recreation Center, both squads scored 36 points, but it was Cal State Northridge that left the floor disappointed. Northridge led in field goal percentage by the slimmest of margins (48.3 percent to 46.7 percent), but it was the missed opportunities from beyond the arc that plagued the team. The Matadors missed eight of 12 three-point attempts despite having several open and uncontested looks.
The pace of the game slowed considerably in the second half, due to unsustainable offensive pace from both teams and more fouls called by the game referees. A total of 10 fouls were called in the opening period, but the second half saw 28 whistles.
Despite the foul disparity, Cal State Northridge’s Ashlee Guay began to take over. The league’s fourth-leading scorer sliced and diced UCR’s defense continuously as her layup with 13 minutes remaining gave the Matadors a 51-46 lead that they would not relinquish.
Northridge pounded the Highlanders in the paint, outscoring the team 46-14. The Matadors also outscored the team in points off of turnovers, 26-8. Guay, who finished the game with 33, scored 22 points in the second half alone, including nine of 10 successful layups.
Every Highlander starter played at least 35 minutes of the contest, led by Crain, who posted 22 points, five rebounds and a block in 40 minutes of play.
UC Riverside (16-12, 7-7) remains at home to face the UC Davis Aggies on March 5.