In a game with huge playoff implications for both teams, the UCSB women’s basketball team fell on the road last night to UC Irvine 58-46.
The loss nearly takes the Gauchos out of contention for making the Big West Tournament at 1-25 overall and 1-12 in conference play. The Anteaters improved to 6-22 overall and took a two-game lead over Santa Barbara with a 3-10 mark in the Big West for the final playoff spot.
With Irvine having swept UCSB and now clinching the head-to-head tie-breaker, the Gauchos would have to win their last three games while the Anteaters lose their last three in order to qualify for postseason play.
Things were looking good early for Santa Barbara after a free-throw from sophomore point guard Onome Jemerigbe gave the Gauchos a 13-5 lead midway through the first half.
However, the Anteaters immediately answered back to take the lead. A jumper by senior forward Methlyn Onogomuho with 6:08 left in the half put UCI up 15-13, capping off a 10-0 run.
UCSB once again took the lead with just over two minutes before the half, as senior center Clair Watkins’ lay-up put her team up 19-18. This would be the Gauchos’ last lead of the game, as Irvine’s sophomore guard Irene Chavez took over from there.
Just before the half ended, Chavez knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to give her team a 24-19 lead heading into the break. Jemerigbe put in a lay-up to start the second half, cutting the Anteaters’ lead to three before Chavez answered right back with a jumper to make it 26-21. On the following possession, Chavez hit another three-pointer, her fourth straight made basket, to push Irvine’s lead up to 29-21.
From there, the Anteaters were able to hold UCSB at bay. A lay-up by UCSB’s freshman forward Chaya Durr cut the deficit to 45-35 with just under six minutes remaining. Irvine then went on an 11-3 run which included seven makes from the free-throw line as the Anteaters pushed their lead to 56-38, the largest it would be all game.
The Gauchos finished the game out on a 7-2 run, capped off by a steal and lay-up by junior point guard Dioseline Lopez as time ran out, but their second half efforts were not enough as they fell 58-46.
Chavez finished her night with a game-high 18 points on 6-12 shooting off the bench. More impressively, she knocked down 5-10 from three-point range.
While the Gauchos’ biggest weakness of late has been their poor rebounding, the difference in last night’s game came from the field. Both teams finished the night with 50 field-goal attempts, but UCSB was able to convert just 30 percent of its shots compared to 44 percent for the Anteaters.
UCSB was only outrebounded 37-32 on the night, an improvement from their -9.8 rebounding margin coming into the game. The Gauchos turned the ball over 16 times to Irvine’s 19 as both teams finished the night with 19 points off turnovers.
The Gauchos’ bench shot an impressive 66.7 percent from the field, but only attempted six shots. The starters shot just 25 percent as a unit. Junior guard Jasmine Ware was the only starter for Santa Barbara that finished with an efficient shooting night, going 6-9 from the field for a team-high 12 points.
Next up for UCSB is a road game against UC Davis tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.