Excitement rises at UCI

December 06, 2010|By Barry Faulkner
  • UC Irvine senior Jade Smith-Williams is part of the Anteaters' resurgence this season.
UC Irvine senior Jade Smith-Williams is part of the Anteaters'… (KENT TREPTOW, Daily…)

Molly Goodenbour is not good with giddy. And, frankly, despite a five-game winning streak and the UC Irvine women's basketball program's best start since 2002-03 in this, her third season as coach, it's a little soon to start planning any parades.

But, more than the end, it's the means that have Anteaters' observers glowing about the team that continues to emerge from the former Stanford All-American's bench.

And it was hard not to spot the beginnings of a gleam in Goodenbour's eyes after a 53-point second half propelled the 'Eaters to a 75-61 nonconference triumph over visiting Portland State Saturday afternoon at the Bren Events Center.

"It's exciting," Goodenbour said with her typical deadpan delivery after her team improved to 4-0 at home while upping its record to 5-3.

The positives include standout returners junior post Mikah Maly-Karros, senior point guard Jade Smith-Williams, immensely improved junior Kiara Belen and explosive sophomore Jazmyne White, last year's Big West Conference Freshman of the Year.


But ample credit is also deserving for transfers Jacquelyn Marshall (a freshman from the University of San Diego) and Cassandra McCalister (a junior from Oregon State).

Oregon State transfer Tayler Champion, a 6-foot-1 sophomore forward, is expected to become eligible for the team's road trip to Washington that begins Monday. And Kim Barnes, a 6-4 senior center, was in uniform Saturday for the first time in nearly a year after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Maly-Karros, who led the Big West in scoring (20.5 per game) and rebounding (11.1) last season, when she had 13 double-doubles in 22 games after transferring from Loyola Marymount, has five double-doubles this season, No. 4 in the country. She is averaging 19.1 points and 10.5 boards, but last year's first-team all-conference honoree no longer faces the nightly burden of carrying her teammates on her shoulders.

Smith-Williams' leadership, at the point and at the forefront of Goodenbour's relentless drive for success, is as valuable as her noteworthy statistical contribution.

After averaging 20 points and four assists in three wins last week, to collect Big West Player of the Week honors, Smith-Williams, who followed Goodenbour to Irvine from Chico State, is averaging 14.1 points, 4.1 assists and has made 87.5% of her free throws (42 of 48) this season.

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