IRVINE — The 21 points were easily a career high for UC Irvine junior Anete Klintsone. The six ice bags she wrapped around various parts of her legs after the Anteaters' 77-75 overtime win over Big West Conference women's basketball visitor Pacific on Thursday night figure to also be her personal best.
For the first time since Dec. 11, UCI's best was good enough to win, as the hosts (5-10, 1-2 in conference) snapped a five-game losing streak and also ended a three-game winning streak for the Tigers (7-6, 1-1).
Klintsone, getting just her fourth start in 15 games, was a catalyst on both ends. The 5-foot-7 native of Latvia made nine of 15 field-goal attempts, many while spinning and leaning under taller defenders, to help UCI post its first Big West win.
Klintsone made her two three-pointers within an 87-second span, the latter with 5:09 left in regulation to give UCI a 61-58 lead.
A three-pointer by Jacquelyn Marshall with 3:43 left put the 'Eaters up, 65-60, but Pacific kept making plays and baskets of its own.
The Tigers scored the final five points of regulation to force overtime, including two foul shots by Kendall Rodriguez after she was fouled attempting a three-pointer with three seconds left.
But Klintsone notched one of her four assists to help Kiara Belen give UCI the first points of overtime. Klintsone, whose previous career-best was 15 points against Weber State, then netted a driving layin of her own to give UCI a four-point overtime lead.
But, true to form in a game that featured 18 ties and 12 lead changes, UOP rallied to knot the score at 75-75 on a follow shot with 1:12 left in the five-minute extra session.
Belen, who had 11 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two assists, sank the game-winner, finishing a curl with a layup on an assist from Kassandra McCalister with 53 seconds left.
Pacific sophomore guard Gena Johnson, who was one of four Tigers in double figures with 16 points, was fouled after a steal near midcourt with four seconds left.
Johnson, awarded two shots in the double bonus, missed the first, before UOP called timeout. Johnson appeared to miss the second intentionally and Tigers center Christina Thompson pulled down the rebound near the right block.
Thompson's subsequent putback attempt, however, was blocked by Marshall and McCalister won a scramble underneath for the rebound as time expired.
Freshman Methlyn Onogomuho had 15 points and eight rebounds for UCI, while McCallister amassed a team-best nine rebounds and eight assists to go with her eight points..
UCI had to overcome 23 turnovers, as well as the loss of sophomore post Jasmine Bernard (three points and five rebounds in 12 minutes before fouling out) and junior Jazmyne White, who was sidelined when her left knee buckled awkwardly with 13:52 left in regulation.
UCI Coach Molly Goodenbour said White's injury could be serious, though more will be known in the coming days.
"To get a victory tonight was definitely the best thing ever," Klintsone said. "I'm really proud of my teammates and we did it all together. It came to the point where we had to figure out, can we do this or not? And we did. I'm sure we are capable of winning more games, because we play as a team."
Goodenbour, who has praised her team's effort during the losing skein, was pleased to see her players rewarded.
"Our kids play hard, they just don't always play very efficiently and don't always make good decisions," Goodenbour said. "But we've learned to play through our bad decisions. We came out one good play ahead, which was fortunate."
UCI posted a 48-46 rebounding edge, forced 20 turnovers and shot 42.5% from the field to UOP's 38%.
Big West Conference
UC Irvine 77, Pacific 75 (OT)
UOP – Rodriguez 22, Thompson 4, G. Johnson 16, Wakefield 13, McKenzie 10, B. Johnson 4, Kendall 3, K. Johnson 2, Smith 1.
3-pt. goals – Rodriguez 5, McKenzie 2.
UCI – Onogomuho,15, Belen 11, White 2, Klintsone 21, McCalister 8, Marshall 8, Meggs 6, Bernard 3, Hanson 3.
3-pt. goals – Klintsone 2, Meggs 2, Marshall 1, Hanson 1.
Fouled out – Bernard.
Halftime – 36-35, UOP.