Despite a second consecutive strong performance from junior guard Emilie Johnson, the UCSB women’s basketball team lost at UC Davis 74-70 on Saturday. Johnson led the Gauchos with 24 points and six assists in the game while making a career high of seven three-pointers.
[media-credit id=20125 align=”alignright” width=”183″][/media-credit]With the loss, UCSB drops to 12-10 overall (6-4 Big West), while the victory helps Davis improve to 17-5 (7-3). The Gauchos split the weekend after defeating Pacific on Saturday night when Johnson dropped 31 points.
“This was a tough loss and someone had to lose,” senior forward Mekia Valentine said. “It came down to that. We just have to go on to the next game, there is no feeling sorry for ourselves.”
With 1:17 left in the game and down by 12, Johnson took the game into her own hands, scoring 13 consecutive points for the Gauchos to close the deficit to three. She made four shots from beyond the arc in a span of a minute.
“[Emilie] is incredible. She is shooting the ball with a confidence,” Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “She puts the work in and had a tremendous weekend. We hope to have her keep up this level of confidence.”
Davis was able to hold onto the victory after a free throw extended their lead to four with 14 seconds to play. Valentine nearly had another double-double for the Gauchos, with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Junior forward Kelsey Adrian said the team is looking forward to the next time they play Davis and will be ready shall that opportunity come in the conference tournament.
“We worked our butts off and came back at the end,” Adrian said. “It just wasn’t enough and we didn’t have enough time. We know we gave it our all and that we can play with them anytime.”
Adrian had 13 points for UCSB while freshman guard Nicole Nesbit added nine points, five rebounds and five assists off the bench.
“It is always tough to lose, but there are a lot of positives to take from the loss today,” Gottlieb said. “Davis was able to make more shots in positive situations and did enough to come away with the win.”
In its last match up against the Aggies, UCSB fell victim to their pressure zone defense, committing 23 turnovers in a 63-55 loss. This time around, the Gauchos only turned the ball over 16 times.
“We started to take care of the ball better,” Adrian said. “We came out prepared and limited our turnovers, but Davis did a good job hitting shots even with our hands up.”
Junior wing player Kasey Riecks scored a team-high 18 points while adding five rebounds for Davis. Senior post player Paige Mintun added 13 points for the Aggies while junior wing player Lauren Juric had 11 points.
Valentine said that every remaining game would be a challenge for the Gauchos.
“We need a good start going into the conference tournament,” Valentine said. “We need to learn to be consistent and come prepared every game ready to win.”
With only seven games left in the season, time is running short for the Gauchos.
“The big picture is that we need to keep getting better,” Gottlieb said. “The team that keeps getting better will win in Anaheim. When we are at our best, we are tough to beat.”
The next game for UCSB is on Thursday Feb. 10 when they host Irvine. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.