It was dome, sweet dome this weekend for the UCSB women’s basketball team
Playing their first back-to-back home games of the season, the Gauchos felt right at home at the Thunderdome this weekend, picking up victories over both Pacific and Idaho to remain unbeaten in Big West play. Friday night, Santa Barbara used a 19-4 burst to start the second half before cruising to a 67-58 victory over Pacific.
UCSB then followed that up with an impressive 77-53 whipping of the same Idaho squad that upset the Gauchos at the T-dome last season. Santa Barbara has now won nine straight games and appears primed to record another perfect conference record. But a winning streak doesn’t always lead to a satisfied squad, according to UCSB Head Coach Mark French.
“I’m very disappointed [Pacific] ended up with 17 offensive rebounds,” French said after the Gauchos’ win over the Tigers. “That’s clearly something we need to work on. I’m sure we’ll be able to watch the video and take a look at that.”
Down early, UCSB used an 8-0 spurt to go ahead 12-5 on a triple from junior guard Jess Hansen. However, the Gauchos could not pull away from Pacific, which tied the game at 18-all and then again at 20-20. Riding the hot hand of guard Corrine Wong, who scored 13 first-half points, the Tigers matched Santa Barbara basket for basket, eventually taking a 32-30 lead into halftime on the strength of a three-pointer from guard Nancy Dinges.
Trailing at the half seemed to light a fire under the Gauchos, who came out hot to start the second period. Sophomore center Lindsay Taylor got UCSB going with a layup. A short jumper from freshman guard Mia Fisher followed.
After a layup from Pacific guard Selena Ho, Santa Barbara reeled off nine straight points to go up 49-36, with freshman forward Kristen Mann chipping in five during the run. The 13-point cushion proved more than enough for UCSB, which held on down the stretch, despite missing numerous free throws and turning the ball over 18 times for the game.
“We’re a good free throw shooting team, and we’ll go back and continue to shoot our normal free throws [in practice],” French said. “I’m confident in our free throw shooting. Now our turnovers, that’s something else all together.”
But it was the same story for Santa Barbara against the Vandals on Sunday, as UCSB turned the ball over 15 times and shot only 50 percent from the charity stripe. But the Gauchos offset their turnovers with a season-high 29 assists, en route to their easy win.
Santa Barbara got rolling early against the Vandals, using a 15-0 run to take a commanding 22-8 advantage mid-way through the first half. Idaho responded with a run of its own, this one a 10-0 spurt to pull within 22-18. But that was as close as Idaho would get all day, as UCSB put together an astounding 31-5 run that lasted well into the second half to put the game away.
Taking advantage of their height, the Gauchos repeatedly lobbed the ball inside to Taylor and senior forward Kayte Christensen for easy hoops. Taylor finished with a game-high 21 points on 10-11 shooting, while Christensen added 12 points and seven boards.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Fisher said after the victory over Idaho. “We’re trying to get better with each game because the [NCAA] Tournament is coming up soon. We’re going to have to play better game so when we get [to the Tournament] we can be successful.”
The Gauchos continue their home stand Wednesday, when they host Cal State Fullerton. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.