The UC Riverside women’s basketball team (7-15, 3-5) snapped their four-game losing streak in a victory over California State University, Northridge (9-13, 4-4) on Thursday, Jan. 9 at the Matadome in Northridge. The victory marked Riverside’s first conference road win of the season.
The Highlanders trailed the Matadors by only one point in the first quarter, 7-6, and never gave up the lead again for the rest of the game. Riverside secured the 67-62 win despite numerous offensive surges from Northridge.
After closing the first quarter with a three-point lead, Riverside started the second quarter strong with senior guard Jannon Otto scoring a three on each of the first two possessions. The Matadors appeared to be cutting into the nine point Highlander lead at the start of the second quarter, but the Highlanders quickly regained control of the game. After a foul from junior guard Keilani Cooper, Northridge sophomore guard Jordyn Jackson made the ensuing free throws. In the next sequence, the Matadors regained possession of the ball with a defensive rebound that led to a three from freshman guard Deja Williams, cutting their deficit to only four points. Riverside sophomore forward Bryanna Brady scored a fast bucket off of an assist from senior forward Jaylyn Clay, improving the Highlander lead to eight points, 25-1. Brady’s bucket was the start of an eight-to-nothing scoring run for the Highlanders that was highlighted by Cooper sinking back-to-back three-pointers for Riverside.
The Highlanders started the third quarter with a 10-point lead and carried the momentum into the fourth quarter even with the Matadors cutting the lead to four points once again with only 36 seconds left in the game. UCR defended their 63-59 lead, holding Northridge to a missed shot attempt and a turnover while getting to the line three times to make four of their six free throws.
Otto led the Highlanders with 27 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Her stellar performance cemented her place in Highlander history as she became the 19th woman to score 1,000 points for UC Riverside. “I think Jannon has been stepping up,” Head Coach Seyram Bell said when reflecting on Otto’s success. “I think she is doing a good job. And not just scoring wise, she’s doing a good job leading the team. She would get frustrated before and force shots, and in practice we have been really emphasizing shooting,” Bell added.
Otto is currently ranked as an individual leader in two of the four Big West categories, ranked third in points per game and fourth in rebounds per game, right behind her teammate senior forward Marina Ewodo who is ranked third. Ewodo contributed eight points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four steals in the victory. Cooper was the second highest scorer, finishing with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Next, the Highlanders will host Long Beach State (10-11, 5-3) on Saturday, Feb. 15 at the SRC Arena.