November 13, 2015
Highlanders 86 – Bulldogs 68
The UC Riverside women’s basketball team started their highly anticipated season strong, taking down the Fresno State Bulldogs 86-68. The outcome was never much in question, with a 10-0 run to end the first quarter giving the Highlanders a comfortable lead that they would never relinquish. The lead would continue to expand for the Highlanders, ballooning into a 21-point lead that settled at 46-26 heading into the locker room at halftime.
The Bulldogs would make a few valiant attempts to put themselves in a position to compete —including scoring eight straight points in the third — but Fresno could never get within 14 points for the remainder of the game. Fresno State applied a full court press in the fourth in a desperate attempt to quickly cut into the lead, but to no avail.
Highlander forward Annelise Ito was close to a triple double on the evening — scoring 19 points while grabbing nine boards and adding eight assists — and three other Highlanders joined her with double-digit scoring marks. Brittany Crain had 18 with two blocks, Rejane Verin had 17 and also inhaled nine rebounds and Akilah Martin added 10 points. Scoring may be the headline, but this Highlander offense was given great opportunities due to their consistently suffocating defense.
Despite shooting a below average mark of 43.1 percent from the field, UCR dominated the game defensively, allowing Fresno State to shoot a meager 35.5 percent from the field, including 4-20 from three-point range. The Highlanders also limited the Bulldog bench to just 16 points, and allowed only 10 field goals in the first half of play. The defense also pressured the Bulldogs into a whopping 18 turnovers, despite recording only two official steals. Those turnovers resulted in 23 points for the Highlanders and the stifling defense prevented Fresno State from getting on the run, completely mitigating their pace and forcing them into a halfcourt offense. The team combined for 62 points in the paint.
Despite this, Fresno State actually out-rebounded the Highlanders, 28-25. However, the Highlanders still out-attempted the Bulldogs from the field, 72-62. Alex Furr scored 15 and got three steals for Fresno State and Bego Faz Davalos scored nine points and had 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who are projected to finish fourth in the preseason Mountain West poll after losing 2014-15 Co-Mountain West Player of the Year Alex Sheedy to graduation.
The women kick off a five-game road trip this Monday, November 16 when they travel to San Diego to take on projected sixth place finisher of the Mountain West Conference, the San Diego State Aztecs.