On Saturday, Jan. 9, the UCR women’s basketball team faced off against UC Irvine (UCI) for the second time in the same weekend. Unfortunately, despite their valiant efforts in the final minutes of the game, they lost 62-60. Despite coming in strongly each quarter, the Irvine Anteaters kept finding the back of the net in the form of free throws. UCR was quick to the ball each quarter of the game. In fact, they were the first team to score in all four quarters, but to no avail.
Jordan Webster, the freshman hailing from Dallas, Texas, opened up the game for the Highlanders, granting them their first 2 points. UCR kept the opposing team at bay for the majority of the first quarter. With a little over five minutes left in the first quarter, UCI began to find their rhythm as well as the back of the net, as they began to form a lead. The Highlanders remained headstrong and fought hard to keep UCI from extending their lead. Unfortunately, Irvine pressed on, closing the first quarter with a lead of 8 points, 21-13.
The Highlanders kept fighting during the second quarter, keeping the Anteaters scoreless for the first five minutes of the quarter as they went on a 6-0 run. The UCI team pushed back, extending their lead to a 10-point lead with a little over four minutes left in the quarter. UCR kept chipping away at Irvine’s lead, scoring 10 more points before closing out the quarter 34-27, with UCI still on top.
After a slow first half, UCR came back with a newfound ferocity. Senior Keilani Cooper from Murrieta, California opened up the half with a 3-pointer. She would go on to lead the charge for Riverside, scoring a total of 16 points in the game. The Highlanders kept chipping away at the lead from the opposing team. Their strong efforts helped them close out the quarter with only a 9-point deficit; UCI was up 49-40.
In the fourth quarter, the Highlanders gave their all in order to try and finally close the gap. UCR came on strong during the fourth quarter and would go on to dominate for the majority of it. Four minutes into the quarter, Riverside took the lead 50-49 over the Irvine team. UCI pushed back, but a foul from their team paired with another 3-pointer from the Highlanders would put Riverside up 57-53. UCR extended their lead to 60-55. Sadly, UCI would go on to tie and win the game in the final two minutes of the game, leaving the score 62-60 in favor of the Anteaters.
Despite the loss, the spirited efforts of the Highlanders highlighted many strengths found within the team. The brilliant leadership of the coaching staff led by Nicole Powell, paired with the efforts of the team bode well for UCR. Keilani Cooper and Jordan Webster closed the game with 16 points, 2 assists and 8 points, respectively. Jada Holland, the sophomore from Pleasanton, California, also played a great game, scoring 15 points and gathering 6 assists for the team.
The women’s basketball team’s next scheduled game will be against California State University, Bakersfield on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 22 and 23 at 4 p.m. for the first Big West Conference game.