It would be really easy to blame the offense in the UCSB women’s basketball team’s 64-46 blowout loss at home against Cal State Northridge.
Scoring just 46 points, the lowest point total of the year for the Gauchos, Santa Barbara shot a measly 27.3 percent from the field.
UCSB also committed 13 first half turnovers, allowing Northridge to go on a 17-2 run in which the Gauchos could never recover. On the season, Santa Barbara tops the Big West in both field goal percentage and turnovers.
In the first half, UCSB received little offensive production from anyone but its seniors, with senior guards Nicole Nesbit, Melissa Zornig and Destini Mason accounting for 20 of the team’s 22 points.
However, in the second half, the entire team failed to find an answer for the Matador’s scrappy, tenacious zone. Northridge’s defense bothered the Gauchos’ offense the entirety of the game with Santa Barbara struggling to get a quality shot off. Only one player for UCSB finished in double-figures with Nesbit tallying 13 points and six rebounds on the afternoon.
Yet, this is Carlene Mitchell’s team and per usual for her, the problem was on the defensive end.
“Some of (the offensive troubles) can be pressing too much. Some of that can be taking the wrong shots. I don’t worry about it,” Mitchell said. “It is the defensive side of it. I pulled the stats out from last year for the team and last year we scored 45, we scored 55 and maybe 47 against Northridge. So, here’s that double edge sword that we scored 70 in the first three games and most of the first half of the season, so offense is going to be the question, but my question is, ‘how can we score 46 but also win the game?’”
Northridge shot 44.8 percent from the field. The Matadors also outscored the Gauchos 34-10 in the paint and outrebounded them 45-31.
After allowing Northridge to go on the 17-2 run in the first half, Santa Barbara then didn’t contain the Matadors to open the second half, allowing them to start the final period on an 8-1 run, which eventually reached a game-high 24 points.
“We know we need to stick to our defensive principles,” Nesbit said. “At times, we have lapses in defense, but we know as long as we continue to turn up the intensity on defense and stick to the fundamentals that we’ll be okay.”
Needing to come from behind has become a recent trend for UCSB, falling behind by large deficits in all three Big West games, and the team hasn’t fared well, going 0-3 in those games.
“As we continue on the season, we need to learn to put two halves together,” Nesbit said. “We sometimes come out flat in the second half and that tends to snowball, but we know that we need to come out with intensity in both halves.”
Individually, Janae Sharpe led her team with 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists. She was one of three players in double-figures for Northridge. 6’3’’ sophomore center Bernadette Fong, who averages just 5.8 points per game, made UCSB pay down low, scoring 16 points.
The loss snaps a 14 game win streak over Northridge and emphasized the struggles of UCSB recently. The team has dropped eight of its last nine games with its last win coming on Dec. 28.
More importantly, the Gauchos remain winless in Big West play, dropping to 5-11 overall and 0-3 in conference. Northridge, on the other hand, improves to 7-11 overall and 3-1 in league.
“We have the answers within us, but its how do we put that together?” Mitchell said. “Talent alone is never enough. I’ll continue to say in our conference, we’re one of the most talented, but at this point, we haven’t meshed as a team.”
UCSB returns to action Thursday against UC Riverside.
This article is an online exclusive and did not appear in the print edition of the Daily Nexus.