Coming off a disappointing 81-48 loss at the hands of Riverside, UCSB women’s basketball is looking to rebound in a big way when they take on Cal State Fullerton on Saturday at the Thunderdome.
[media-credit id=16616 align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]Last Saturday’s loss dropped the Gauchos record to 9-8 (3-2 Big West) while the Titans’ last win over Long Beach State on Wednesday brought their record to 7-12 (3-4 Big West). UCSB has come out victorious in the last 35 games against Fullerton, and leads the overall match up, 44-21.
“They are a very good team and they deny everything,” senior forward Mekia Valentine said. “They take a lot of risks by going for steals. It is very key that we value the ball this time around because they are very quick.”
Fullerton’s duo of junior guard Megan Richardson and senior guard Lyndsey Grove lead the Titans’ attack, combining to average over 28 points per game. Each is deadly from the outside as well, as both sit in the top 10 in the league for three-point field goal percentage.
“Fullerton plays a four-guard offense and they have really good shooters,” Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “They run a lot of screens to get their open shots. Richardson is probably the best in the league in terms of outside shooting.”
With the Gauchos’ second-ranked defense in terms of opponent point production, the game figures to be a battle of two different styles of play. To stay with the Titans, UCSB will have to use its size to control the glass.
“We need to establish an inside game, that is their one vulnerability,” Gottlieb said. “We also need to handle pressure and allow our guards to get to the basket. We have to make it tough for them to score by getting off the screens quickly, challenging the shot and doing a good job on defense.”
“Collectively, we need to come together and take it to another level,” junior guard Emilie Johnson said. “We need to handle pressure better, take care to the ball and not commit turnovers. Similar to Riverside, they are a pressure team defensively. We will be prepared on Saturday and will be ready for their pressure.”
Johnson went scoreless on Saturday against Riverside, but dropped 20 in the team’s previous game against Irvine. She leads the Gaucho’s in scoring with over 12 points per game. Valentine, meanwhile, nearly averages a double-double with nine points and over nine rebounds per game. Both are looking for a better performance from the team on Saturday than they saw against Riverside.
“Everybody has their pride and no one likes to lose by ,” Johnson said. “I think we are all fired up to rebound from it. We know that’s not how we play basketball here as Gauchos. We need to hold ourselves accountable to certain standards and that was way below our expectations.”
The Gauchos are currently in a four-way tie for second place in the Big West with 11 games remaining on the Big West schedule. The Titans sit in sixth place, but have won their previous two games and are eager to take advantage of any Gaucho struggles.
“After the Irvine game, I was saying that at this point in the season, it really comes down to the little stuff,” Valentine said. “The team that can take care of the little things such as turnovers, free throws and all that stuff, is the team that will come out on top.”
Tip-off against Fullerton is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Thunderdome.