UCR’s (7-8, 5-6) women’s basketball team closed out their first game against UC San Diego (UCSD) with a loss on Friday, Feb. 19. Playing in the SRC arena, the Highlanders did their best to close out the game with a win, although they trailed behind by 10 points for most of the game. Despite their best efforts, they closed out the game 63-59.

UCSD (3-7, 3-7) opened up the scoreboard with a 3-pointer to which UCR replied with a nice 2-point jumper of their own. Both teams traded points back and forth before tying 8-8 with a little over five minutes left in the first quarter. The Tritons then began to create a lead for themselves, going on a 7-0 run. The Highlanders replied with a small 6-1 run of their own before closing the quarter 16-14.

Going into the second quarter, the Highlanders did their best to stay close to the Tritons. Going back and forth, both teams gained 4 points before UCR sent UCSD to the charity stripe to score 2 successful free throws. UCR replied with a jumper from freshman guard India Aikins. UCSD went on a brief 5-0 run in an attempt to gain momentum before sophomore guard Jada Holland scored a 3-pointer to leave the scoreboard 27-23 with just under three minutes left in the first half. The Tritons managed to keep going, earning 6 more points while the Highlanders earned 2 points, leaving the scoreboard at 33-25 at halftime.

Going into the second half, UCR went back and forth with UCSD while trying to close the gap created. Three minutes into the third quarter, both teams had gained 6 points. Freshman forward Suzan Kinran sank a 3-pointer to try and get some runs going for UCR, to which UCSD’s freshman forward, Aisha Brown, replied with a jumper of her own. UCR went on a 5-0 run before allowing UCSD to score two free throws. This prompted a push-and-pull run for UCR, gaining 8 points while the Tritons gained 9, which resulted in UCSD returning to the free-throw line to sink two baskets. With about a minute left in the third quarter, UCR found themselves in a 10-point deficit, 53-43. Freshman guard Jordan Webster sank a buzzer-beater, earning UCR 3 points before heading into the final quarter of the game, down 53-46.

Going into the final 10 minutes of the game, UCSD opened up the scoreboard with a solid 3-pointer. UCR was given two free throws, which were successfully shot by junior guard Lauryn Pointer. Brown drove in a layup, which left UCR down 60-50 with five minutes left in the game. The Highlanders managed to go on another run, essentially shutting down the Tritons by going on a 9-3 run. Unfortunately, their late push was not enough, leaving the scoreboard 63-59.

Despite their best efforts, UCR could not overcome the gap in points created by the free throws UCSD was given. UCR went 3-3 at the free-throw line, while UCSD went 10-12. This ultimately aided the Tritons’ charge.
“We just have to do a better job. We weren’t tuned into the simple things. You have to be ready to play, and defense is 100% an effort thing. We didn’t give our best effort and UCSD took advantage of that,” said Head Coach Nicole Powell in a press release.

Powell and the women’s team look forward to Game 2 and are hoping to make the necessary changes in order to bounce back and win the second game.

“A lot of our mistakes are fixable. That’s the good news. There are small things we should already be doing at this point in the season, but that’s just part of growth,” stated Powell. “The rest of it, to me, it looked like we just haven’t played a game. We looked like we haven’t competed in a few weeks. A lot of the issues are easily fixable and that is encouraging to this team.”