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Season halted for UCI women's hoops team

Top-seeded Cal State Northridge eliminates senior-laden UCI in Big West tourney semifinal.

March 14, 2014|By Barry Faulkner | By Barry Faulkner

ANAHEIM — The six remaining seniors in uniform for the UC Irvine women's basketball team played their final three games in socks that displayed the skyline of their native region. It was a fitting gesture for an Anteaters' team that played, by any measure, well above the clouds all season long.

The Anteaters (17-15), picked to finish eighth in the nine-team Big West Conference, fell to top-seeded Cal State Northridge, 78-60, in the semifinals of the conference tournament on Friday at Honda Center.

The 17 wins were the most since the 2002-03 'Eaters finished 17-12, and Coach Doug Oliver's No. 4-seeded squad produced the first Big West Tournament win in nine seasons (spanning eight trips). The semifinal appearance was the program's first since 2003 and only the fourth in its last 29 seasons.

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And all this came without two injured starters — including fifth-year senior Jazmyne White — a trend that left Oliver with only nine available players down the stretch.

"I'm very proud of this year and what we accomplished," said Oliver, in his second season at the helm. [Camille Buckley, Jennifer Tsurumoto] and the other five seniors set the bar for our program."

Buckley, whose 34 points and 17 rebounds keyed an overtime quarterfinal win against UC Davis, produced her 19th double-double of the season Friday with 16 points and 13 rebounds. But 10 of those points came from the free-throw line as a double-teaming defensive scheme helped the Matadors limit her to three-for-12-shooting from the floor.

Buckley — who averaged a double-double in conference play and amassed 19 double-doubles on the season, including each of her final nine games — missed her first eight field-goal tries. She netted her first basket with 12:51 remaining. The first-team All-Conference performer also had a team-best four steals.

Tsurumoto, whom Oliver called one of the toughest, most competitive players he has been around, led UCI with 17 points. She converted five of 10 shots from the field and five of six from the foul line.

But Buckley and Tsurumoto, as well as White, starting guards Kelly Meggs and  Lauren Spinazze, and key reserves Jasmine Bernard and Vanessa Aguilar, will all turn in their uniform for good.  

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