November 27, 2015

Miners 68 – Highlanders 57

The UC Riverside women’s basketball team was in El Paso, Texas for the holiday weekend to compete in the fifth annual University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) Thanksgiving Classic. This was UCR’s first time participating in the tournament and they kicked it off on Friday by posting their lowest point total of the year in a 68-57 loss against tourney host, UTEP.

The Highlanders seemed to be in quite the giving mood early on in this one, committing 10 turnovers in a first quarter that also saw them surrender an 8-0 run in the period’s final three minutes to fall behind, 15-13. From there, UTEP continued to swing the momentum in their favor. An 8-2 run in the second gave them a five point advantage over UCR heading into halftime, while a 21 point outburst in the third put the Highlanders behind 53-44.

In the fourth, UCR’s fate was sealed with an 8-1 Miners run, to push the UTEP lead to a game-high 16. UCR would cut the deficit to as close as 11, but both teams failed to score in the game’s final two minutes, making it another loss for the Highlanders.

In the end, what the loss amounted to is the Highlanders’ third in a row and the team’s worst overall effort on the season. UCR was outworked throughout the game and the numbers can attest to that. Not only did the Highlanders commit a season-high 22 turnovers — which is quite uncharacteristic given their 1.26 assist to turnover ratio entering the matchup — but they also surrendered a whopping 40 points in the paint compared to their 20, allowed 15 second chance points versus their four and lost the rebound category by a 46-33 margin.

The effort altogether was disappointing given that the team showed plenty more grit in prior matchups against much more formidable opponents in Cal Berkeley and Oregon State, despite falling to both. Nevertheless, the season remains young and such experiences now can prove worthwhile come conference play.

November 28, 2015

Highlanders 85 –  Redhawks 67

After the crushing loss at the hands of tournament host, UTEP, UCR set out to defeat the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks in pursuit of the Classic’s third-place trophy.

What ensued was an 85-67 rout for the Highlanders, who snapped a three-game losing streak in the process and now sit at a respectable 3-3 on the year. Star Brittany Crain kicked off the game with 3-5 shooting from long distance in a first quarter that saw her score 11 of the Highlanders’ 21 points. Next up to take over was forward Rejane Verin who notched 11 points of her own in the second quarter on an efficient 4-5 shooting.

The Highlanders would continue to add to their lead, but the Redhawks managed to cut the deficit to six with a 5-0 run to close the first half. UCR wanted to seal the win early and decisively, though, and did so by way of a 15-2 run in the third period that extended their lead to 24. Crain managed to outscore the Redhawks on her own in the period with 15 points compared to their 11.

UCR maintained a 20-plus point lead for most of the way and finished with an 18-point advantage to end it. Crain and Verin were the catalysts all evening for the blue and gold. Crain’s 28 points and 11 boards was one of her best lines of the season, while Verin’s all-around contribution of 24 points, seven boards and eight assists was one of the team’s best performances all year.

Annelise Ito (10/8/5) and Clemence Lefebvre (12/2/2) also managed to reach double-digits on the evening.

With their five-game road trip and three-game skid both behind them, the team now looks to get a streak going in the other direction as they return home to face the Loyola Marymount Lions on Tuesday, December 1 in a 7 p.m. tip-off and close the week with a Friday, December 4 matchup on the road against San Francisco.