UCR’s women’s basketball team (1-2), who was coming off a dominant 72-44 win over San Diego State on Friday, Nov. 11 took the court again on Wednesday, Nov. 16 against the USC Trojans. The Highlanders were unable to duplicate that type of play against the Trojans, falling 67-49. Offensive struggles hindered the Highlanders against the Trojans, as they shot only 38 percent from the field, 25 percent from three and 60 percent from the free throw line compared to the game against San Diego when the team shot 50, 58.3 and 64.7 percent, respectively. While this may seem like a cause for concern going forward, the Highlanders are without their best scorer from last season, Brittany Crain, who averaged 22.5 points per game and was the team’s main source of offense. Losing an offensive catalyst like Crain is a huge blow to the offense, evident by the team’s 29 turnovers compared to last season’s average of 12.8 per contest. Although, as Head Coach John Margaritis told the Highlander earlier this fall, “last season is history,” and this team has plenty of time and talent to rediscover its flow.
The growing pains continued, however, against UC Berkeley on Friday, Nov. 18 as the Highlanders fell 71-56 while shooting 38.7 percent from the field, 35.3 percent from three and 66.7 from the free throw line. Riverside was led by forward Rejane Verin and guard Lauren Holt who scored 18 points and 17 points respectively. The offensive flow seemed to click for the Highlanders as they finished the game with only nine turnovers. Berkeley was led by forward Kristine Anigwe who had 28 on 12-23 shooting. The Golden Bears also killed the Highlanders on the boards with 16 second chance points compared to UCR’s zero. The Highlanders also lost the battle in the paint, being out-scored 30-16.
Despite back-to-back road losses, the Highlanders have plenty of time to settle in. UC Riverside’s poor shooting percentages thus far can be attributed to not having a definitive offensive leader, although Verin seems to be emerging as the solution to that problem.
The Highlanders will be back in action on Friday, Nov. 25 at 5 p.m. at the SRC Arena against the University of South Dakota which begins a three-game home stand for the Highlanders.