The University of California, Riverside women’s basketball team (8-22, 4-12) took a tough loss to UC Irvine (13-17, 9-7) on Thursday, March 5 at Bren Events Center in Irvine, California. The Highlanders fought until the final seconds of the 86-76 game but were not able to make up the 10-point deficit before the clock ran out.
UC Irvine went on an early 12-2 scoring run to jump out to a 15-6 lead four minutes into the game. Riverside answered back by outscoring UC Irvine in the final four minutes of the first quarter to end the period with a 21-19 lead. The Highlanders and Anteaters were in a close battle at the start of the second quarter, but the Anteaters started to run away with the game shortly thereafter. The Anteaters went on a seven-point scoring streak that later became a 16-to-2 point scoring run to take the lead. UC Irvine freshman forward Sophia Locandro went on a personal 6-0 run to contribute to that stretch. The Highlanders were able to get back within single-digit scoring range, only for UC Irvine to extend their lead to 42-29 before the half.
The Highlanders trailed UC Irvine by double-digits throughout the third quarter. Behind 58-42 going into the fourth quarter, junior guard Keilani Cooper heated up with 14 points to aid the Highlanders in cutting the deficit to nine points, 78-69. With two minutes left in the game, the Highlanders put up a lot of shots but were not able to score enough in the short time remaining on the clock.
This marked the second loss that the Highlanders took at the hands of UC Irvine this season, but this was a much more competitive showing for UC Riverside than their 77-53 defeat in February. Now ranked third in the Big West Conference, UC Irvine will continue their season in the Big West Tournament.
Junior guard Keilani Cooper led the Highlanders with 20 points, while freshman forward Daphne Gnago contributed 15 points and seven rebounds. Senior guard Jannon Otto also put up 11 points and snagged five rebounds.
Not competing in the Big West Conference Tournament this year, the Highlanders ended their 2020 season with a 74-49 loss to California State University Northridge, (12-18, 7-9) on Saturday March 7 at the SRC Arena in Riverside, California. During the game, the Highlanders honored Marina Ewodo, Jannon Otto, Skyler Lewis and Jayln Clay on their senior nights as they played for UC Riverside for the last time.