In a scenario that has become commonplace in the Big West, the UCSB women’s basketball team won two home games over the weekend to extend its conference winning streak to 47 games.
The Gauchos (11-6, 5-0 in the Big West) struggled offensively on their way to defeating a scrappy Boise State team 72-54 Friday night in the Thunderdome. Santa Barbara relied on freshman center Lindsay Taylor for scoring while leading scorer Kayte Christensen was hampered by a bruised right calf. Taylor had free reign inside, finishing with career-high 24 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks.
“Lindsay gave us a big shot in the arm tonight,” Head Coach Mark French said. “They had no answer for her inside.”
The Gauchos jumped out to an early 17-3 lead due in part to the reckless play of BSU (6-11, 2-2), which turned the ball over 17 times in the first half alone. Behind freshman forward Jessica Combs’ nine first-half points, UCSB maintained their 14-point lead, going up 26-12.
But as careless as the Broncos were with the ball, Santa Barbara was nearly as bad, turning it over 15 times in the first half. Boise State finally started exploiting the Gaucho’s mistakes, finding its shooting touch and cutting the Gaucho lead to 31-19 at the half.
BSU came out on fire in the second half, scoring 11 straight points to cut the lead to 31-30. But Santa Barbara responded with back-to-back jumpers by Taylor, giving UCSB a 48-43 lead. The Gauchos eventually pulled away from there.
The absence of freshman point guard Syretta Coleman – who was suspended earlier in the year- was conspicuous. After the contest, French said that Coleman would not be returning to the team this season.
“We decided that it was in her best interest, as well as the team’s best interest, that she not play this season,” French said.
It was Stacey Clinesmith Day at the Thunderdome on Sunday, and UCSB received some excellent point guard play in honor of its former floor leader. The Gauchos cut their turnovers and harassed Idaho into committing 34 turnovers of their own en route to an 83-61 victory.
“I think we played really good defense today that led to those turnovers,” senior forward Nicole Greathouse said. “But a lot of their turnovers were unforced.”
Santa Barbara jumped out to an early 8-2 lead behind the hot shooting of sophomore point guard Debby Caine, who nailed her first two three-pointers of the game. The Vandals (3-15, 0-5) responded with some good shooting of their own, taking the lead at 9-8 after Meg Leblanc’s layup.
That would be Idaho’s only lead of the game, however, as the Gauchos took over the momentum. Playing without Combs, who suffered a concussion and received five stitches after a collision early in the first half, UCSB went on a 25-7 run to end the half up 41-23.
Santa Barbara continued its hot shooting in the second half, but the Vandals wouldn’t go away, clawing to within 12, 50-38. UCSB was able to answer Idaho’s hoops with easy baskets of its own thanks to the stellar passing of Caine, who finished with seven assists.
“I think we passed the ball very well today,” French said. “We made the second and third passes, and once we play like that consistently we’ll be hitting on all cylinders.”
Up 62-48, the Gauchos looked to Taylor, who finished with a game-high 21 points to bring home the win down the stretch. When the Vandals closed the Gaucho lead to 67-58, Taylor responded with consecutive scores to put UCSB up 71-58, effectively stifling Idaho’s last gasp.