Typically the UCSB women’s basketball team is known for its defense.
It’s how the Gauchos have won games the last two seasons. Even this year, Santa Barbara ranks third in the Big West in scoring defense, holding opponents to 67.1 points per game.
Last night against Northern Arizona, however, may have been the worst defensive performance under the Carlene Mitchell era as UCSB lost in blowout fashion 79-56.
While NAU’s point total isn’t the highest during Mitchell’s reign, the Lumberjacks totaled 54 points in the paint with 27 of their 33 field goals being layups. On the game, Northern Arizona shot 56.9 percent, including 62.5 percent in the second half.
“54 points in the paint – I think that’s the average number of points we gave up last year total,” Mitchell said. “Some of it was post defense on the weak side. We got caught behind on that and the second part of that is the screen and roll defense because we were getting beat to the middle of the lane on dribble penetration on the screen and roll. We just had breakdowns in every aspect of our man to man defense.”
Despite holding the Lumberjack’s biggest offensive threat in senior guard Amanda Frost to 13 points, over seven points less than her season average, UCSB had no answer for junior forward Erikka Banks. One of five players in double figures, Banks totaled a double-double with 23 points on 9-11 shooting and 13 rebounds.
Overall, the Gauchos were outrebounded 39-26, leading to an 18-6 second chance points advantage for Northern Arizona.
“We didn’t block out. That’s just basic fundamentals of what we do,” Mitchell said. “As good as we’ve been against bigger teams – I thought we did a decent job against San Diego State and we did a decent job against a bigger, stronger, athletic Arizona team – we went away from all the fundamental principles tonight of doing the little things you have to do to win. They wanted it more than us tonight.”
During the first half, Santa Barbara found a way to stay in the game due to its proficient shooting. Senior guard Nicole Nesbit tallied 13 of her 17 points and as a team, the Gauchos shot 42.9 from the field, allowing Santa Barbara to head into the locker rooms with the game knotted up at 30-30.
However, UCSB went ice cold to begin the second half, going 1-7 from the field, which led to a 13-0 run by the Lumberjacks. Unfortunately for the Gauchos, the shooting woes didn’t improve with time as the Gauchos shot a dismal 29.6 percent in the second half and were outscored 49-26.
“In the second half, there was just no energy. I think from the beginning of the game there was no energy, but at least the first half we were hitting some shots,” senior guard Melissa Zornig said. “The second half, it seemed like we just stopped and gave up.”
With the loss, Santa Barbara falls to 4-4 overall while NAU improves to 2-2 on the year. The game was the third in the last six days for UCSB.
“We have no excuses,” Mitchell said. “I think human nature, you can use that (we’ve played three games in six days), but once we play Big West we play Thursday and then on Saturday, so we can’t look at that as a reason for effort mistakes.”
The Gauchos will now receive a 10 day vacation for finals before travelling to Kansas State Dec. 15.
This article is an online exclusive and did not appear in the print edition of the Daily Nexus.