The UCSB women’s basketball team’s ability to have short term memory will be tested this week.
Just three days off a rough loss to San Diego State, the Gauchos play Pepperdine on the road tonight, the first of two games in the next three days.
“We take each game game by game,” freshman point guard Onome Jemerigbe said. “It sucks to lose, but we have to let it go and move forward because we do have other games. Even though we lost the game, we need to focus on getting the next win.”
Heading to Malibu with an overall record of 3-3, Santa Barbara comes off a 71-67 loss to the Aztecs in which UCSB had every opportunity to win the game.
The Gauchos held a six point advantage at halftime and extended the lead to nine at the beginning of the second half, but 6’4’’ senior center Cierra Warren scored 15 of her 21 points in the second half to put SDSU in control. Even then, senior guard Nicole Nesbit was given a wide-open three to tie the game in the few second remaining, but missed.
Nesbit led the team with a career-high 22 points. Moving over to the shooting guard position this season, Nesbit currently ranks third in the Big West in scoring with 17.3 points per game.
“When you play the point, the mentality is to pass first, shoot second,” Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said. “Onome’s thought process is to dribble penetrate and get everyone else involved, so that frees up Nic and allows her to have legs late in the game because she’s not having to handle the ball against pressure for 40 minutes. In critical moments, she knows and understands we want the ball in her hands.”
While UCSB shot a season-high 9-19 from three point range, in the second half, the team began settling for jumpers instead of attacking the rim, playing into the tactics of the Aztecs, who played a zone defense.
Tonight, Santa Barbara will see a zone once again against Pepperdine, who will look to pack the paint.
“Zones are so different for people and sometimes I smile and sometimes I want to pull my hair out because when you have players that can dribble penetrate and can shoot, they have all the different elements, but there’s something about a zone that sometimes makes them hesitant,” Mitchell said. “When you’re playing one on one or man defense, it’s a lot easier to use your skill or ability to either create your own shot or create for others. Zones make everyone have to be on the same page.”
Pepperdine enters tonight’s matchup at 2-5. Losers of four straight games, all of which were on the road, the Waves return home in need of a victory.
“They’re a very good team. We have seen some very talented individuals so far, but I think Pepperdine is the team that is the best overall team in understanding their roles and playing well together,” Mitchell said. “They’re balanced, play inside-out, they have skilled players as well as athletes, and they’re battle-tested. They played Oregon and UCLA close; they’ve won on the road in Seattle.”
One player the Gauchos will keep an eye on defensively is junior guard Bria Richardson. Pepperdine’s leading scorer in five of its seven games, Richardson averages 16.6 points, 5.3 assists and 2.6 steals per contest.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Firestone Fieldhouse.
This article is an online exclusive and did not appear in the print edition of the Daily Nexus.