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UCSB women’s basketball finishes off a three-game home stand Wednesday against Pac-12 opponent Washington.
After two consecutive wins last week, the Gauchos improved to 2-2. The Huskies have also won two straight, including one against Seattle, who UCSB lost to in the season opener, and sit at 2-1.
“You can see the difference between our games against Portland State and Seattle and then against LMU and St. Mary’s,” senior forward Kelsey Adrian said. “I think we were working better as a team and it looked a lot better. Now it’s just a matter moving forward from where we left off.”
Washington has a new coach, Kevin McGuff from Xavier, and they’ve looked to turn around his squad as it hasn’t reached the postseason in its last five campaigns. As the Gauchos know, having a new coach means adjusting to a whole new system, which can take time.
“It feels like we’re really coming together and starting to really mesh as a group,” sophomore guard Nicole Nesbit said. “We feel really good after those two wins, emphasizing the wins [part].”
An offensive key for Head Coach Carlene Mitchell has been balanced scoring and not solely relying on senior guard Emilie Johnson. Johnson leads the team with 14.7 points per game, but Nesbit and junior forward Sweets Underwood also average double figures.
“Anybody on our team can step up any night,” Locke said. “We have to make sure they take good shots in rhythm and just keep executing.”
Nesbit has made a huge impact in the last two games, averaging 13.5 points. Overall, she leads the team in assists with 3.25 per contest.
“[Nesbit’s] been a spark off the bench,” Locke said. “She’s able to see the game a bit more, see what’s open, and then been able to come in and execute.”
Washington’s roster also contains three players averaging at least 12 points per game. The Gauchos will need to be aware of Regina Rogers, their leading scorer at 14.7 points per game and shooting 76 percent from the field.
“We have to get after it and play our team defense,” Locke said. “We need to know the personnel, continue to rebound and give them one shot.”
Unlike in their first two games on the road, UCSB has jumped out to a quick start in their last two games, taking large leads into halftime.
The key will be maintaining their consistency in the second half.
“We just have to be a team that can play both halves, all 40 minutes,” Adrian said. “We need to know that teams are going to keep battling and not just roll over.”
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thunderdome.