The Gauchos shipped the Cardinals back home to Louisville, but Santa Barbara could not muster enough points from beyond the arc to uproot the Huskers.
The #26 UCSB women’s basketball team won the opening round of the Time Warner Cable Classic 78-67 against Louisville on Friday night in Lincoln, yet the team lost to a rude host in Nebraska 69-61, despite 50 percent shooting from the field in the first half.
The Gauchos led for all but a portion of the opening minute against Louisville, swarming the Cardinals by out-running and out-gunning their young guards; UCSB shot 49.1 percent in the game. Junior power forward Kayte Christensen led Santa Barbara with 17 points, 8 rebounds and four blocked shots. Sophomore guard Jess Hansen drilled in 18 points, burying seven of 11 shots, including three for five from downtown.
Sophomore point guard Debby Caine punched in 13 points and spread the wealth with seven assists, while logging a game-high 37 minutes, all career highs in her first start as a Gaucho.
The Gauchos began clobbering the Cardinals behind senior forward Rachelle Rogers’ 10 points in the first half and a tenacious defense that held Louisville to 29.7 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes. The contest marked Santa Barbara’s seventh consecutive victory in a season opener.
“People were talking that we’re not as good [as the previous years’ teams],” Rogers said to the Santa Barbara News-Press. “We’re a new team, and we have to be a team. No one player can take over a game, except maybe Kayte [Christensen] here and there.”
Hansen gave the Gauchos the lead for good with her long bomb and 19:09 remaining in the first half, giving the team a 5-3 lead. UCSB led by as many as 10 points in the first half, leading 35-28 at halftime. Santa Barbara had a lead of 21 points in the second half, shooting a sizzling 56 percent from the field and 73.3 percent at the charity stripe in the half.
“We shot the ball well,” UCSB Head Coach Mark French told the News-Press. “I don’t worry about our shooting.”
There were other problems that the Gauchos were able to handle against the Cardinals that hurt UCSB in the final game of the tournament. Santa Barbara turned the ball over 21 times against Louisville and allowed the Cardinals to pick up 26 offensive rebounds, opposed to 18 by Santa Barbara
“The way I’m used to seeing us play, 21 turnovers seemed manageable,” French said.
The 26 offensive rebounds and coinciding second-chance opportunities did not please French, who responded, “That must be a school record. They killed us on the offensive boards.”
In the match-up with the Huskers on Sunday, the Gauchos were haunted by their problems from their first game. UCSB coughed up the ball 22 times, enabling Nebraska to score 23 points off turnovers. Santa Barbara did a better job controlling the glass, giving up 17 offensive rebounds, but lost the overall rebounding battle 47-45. The Gauchos could not get anything going in the open court and were outscored 10-4 in fast-break points.
The biggest difference in the game was UCSB’s dreadful three point shooting. Santa Barbara connected on only two of nine treys in the first half and couldn’t find the bottom of the net in the second half, missing all 13 attempts, combining for a paltry 9.1 percent in the game. Nebraska made six threes in the game on 35.3 percent shooting.
Christensen led the Gauchos with 22 points, eight rebounds and two steals. Senior forward Nicole Greathouse pumped in 15 points, snared 12 boards and stole two balls. Hansen scored 10 points and distributed a game-high seven assists.
Christensen and Greathouse made the All-Tournament Team, giving UCSB the distinction of having two players on the team.