The UCSB women’s basketball team lost its conference home opener to UC Davis on Thursday night 63-55, dropping its record to 7-7 (1-1 in conference) for the season.
Senior forward Mekia Valentine scored eight points and pulled down 18 rebounds to go along with junior guard Kelsey Adrian’s game-high 17 points, but the Gauchos fell short against a tough Aggie zone defense.
“It was a tough loss to a very good UC Davis team,” Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “They are going to make you pay when you make mistakes. They run the aggressive trapping zone that poses people problems. ”
The Aggies’ defense forced UCSB to commit 23 turnovers and take 19 three-pointers; converting on only 26.3 percent of those shots. It was all about the defense for UC Davis (12-3 overall), which slowed down the Gaucho offense all night.
“They know their system and they do it well,” Adrian said. “But … we need to do a better job of handling pressure.”
UCSB kept the game close at halftime, down 30-28. However, the Aggies pulled away in the second half by forcing 13 second-half turnovers. The Davis defense has forced 26 turnovers a game, according to Gottlieb.
“[Turnovers] are a lot of the ways that they are scoring points,” she said. “They wear you down all game by having that pressure on, and it does sort of force you to make a mental error now and again.”
Junior guard Emilie Johnson led the Gauchos with six assists while contributing 12 points, but only shot one of seven from beyond the arc. Davis forward Paige Mintun led the Aggies with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Davis also got to the foul line 14 more times than UCSB; an important difference late in the game.
“[Adjust] a couple of things and we can beat them,” Johnson said. “I feel like this team is capable of beating a team like Davis. It’s January. It’s not March, so we are going to learn from it, and we are going to get better, and we are going to be ready in March.”
The Gauchos next face Pacific at the Thunderdome on Saturday at 2 p.m.