Women’s basketball defeats New Mexico State in season-opening trip

Courtesy of UCR Athletics

UCR’s women’s basketball team clinched their first official win of the season on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at New Mexico State, 60-58. 

The Highlanders (1-2) tipped off their season with a trip to the southwest, stopping at University of New Mexico (2-0), New Mexico State (1-1) and the University of Texas (0-1). Riverside faced each team on their opening night, playing three games over the course of five days. 

UCR was able to bounce back from their initial loss to University of New Mexico (UNM) and grapple their way to a win against New Mexico State. “This wasn’t a pretty win, but we’re glad to have it along with the lessons we learned in it. I’m excited to see how we apply them in our next game,” Interim Head Coach Seyram Bell told Highlander Athletics. 

The first half was a close battle with no lead over five points for either team, despite 15 turnovers for the Highlanders. In the third quarter sophomore forward Daphne Gnago and senior forward Skylar Lewis contributed nine straight points, with Gnago scoring four and Lewis scoring five. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when the Aggies went on a 14 point scoring streak to establish a six point lead with only two minutes and 32 seconds left in the game. 

Senior forward Marina Ewodo drove to the rim and drew a foul, made both of her free throws, then snagged a defensive rebound and scored on the next possession, earning four points in slightly over 30 seconds. This cut the Highlander deficit to only two points. UCR then forced a shot clock violation on defense and used their final time out of the game. The following possession, the Highlanders gave the ball to Lewis who hit a jump shot to tie the game.

The nail biter came down to a final defensive play; a steal at the baseline and quick pass to senior point guard Ann Jerigan resulted in a clutch layup to secure the win, 60-58. 

The leading scorers of the game were sophomore forward Daphne Gnago, senior forward Marina Ewodo and senior forward Skylar Lewis, earning 15, 14 and 12 points, respectively. Senior point guard Ann Jernigan also secured an impressive eight rebounds. 

The Highlanders were not able to maintain the winning momentum against University of Texas at El Paso on Saturday, Nov. 9. Allowing the Miners to establish an early lead, UCR committed 18 turnovers in the first half of the 63-50 loss and couldn’t lower the deficit to less than 10 points. Senior forward Daphne Gnago led the team with 14 points and 11 rebounds. 

Up next, UCR will play their home opener against the University of Southern California (2-0) on Friday, Nov. 13 at the SRC Arena.