Now in the thick of its most vital part of the season, beginning a four-game road trip on Saturday, the UCSB women’s basketball team managed to win the season series over Hawaii with a 67-52 victory.
It’s the first time since the 1994-95 season that UCSB swept the Rainbow Wahine.
Not allowing the Rainbow Wahine to take the lead at any point of the game, the Gauchos shot their third-best field goal percentage in a game this season at 49 percent. Redshirt junior forward Drew Edelman finished with a career and game-high 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting and was efficient at the free-throw line, making 6-of-8.
Edelman’s big game helped UCSB outscore Hawaii 36-22 in the paint.
UCSB has now ended its two-game losing skid and is back at .500 with a 12-12 record and 7-4 Big West record. Santa Barbara is currently tied with UC Riverside for third place in the league standings. Hawaii lost its fourth-straight game, and is now 8-15 and 4-7 in conference play for seventh place.
In what was just her second career 20-point game, Edelman got off to a quick start, scoring four of the Gauchos’ six points to begin the game.
Despite shooting 30 percent or below – 28.6 percent on a 4-of-14 finish – form behind the three-point line for the fourth consecutive game, redshirt sophomore guard Sarah Porter began the first period hot from long range.
Porter went a perfect 3-of-3 shooting in the first quarter. Her three makes from beyond the arc were her only field goals for the night as she ended the game with nine points on 3-of-10 overall, 3-of-7 three-point shooting. Her three-point make with 29 second remaining in the period gave UCSB a 20-12 lead.
Both junior guard Sarah Toeaina and freshman forward Keleah-Aiko Koloi managed to keep Hawaii within close distance of UCSB’s lead with four points apiece.
Just like Hawaii’s first meeting against the Gauchos, Toeaina led the Rainbow Wahine in scoring again with 19 points on a 8-of-15 performance from the field. Koloi concluded the game without a miss, going 3-of-3 shooting and for six points in eight minutes of play.
The Gauchos first double-figure lead of 22-12 occurred as a result of a made layup by senior point guard Onome Jemerigbe in the first minute of the second quarter. Jemerigbe had a competent night with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting along with three steals.
Two quick three-point makes by freshman guard Julissa Tago and sophomore forward Leah Salanoa cut the Gauchos’ lead to 25-18.
Each time Hawaii managed to score a basket, UCSB responded with points of its own to maintain a lead. Most notably, UCSB held the Rainbow Wahine to just nine points in the quarter.
Following a 30 second timeout, the Gauchos completely controlled the final five minutes of the period to enter halftime on a 9-1 run. Beginning with a made jumpshot by Jemerigbe, at the core of Santa Barbara’s run was junior forward Chaya Durr with four points. Durr ended the game with six points, five rebounds, and one steal as she helped UCSB enter halftime with a 36-21 lead.
In spite of the large deficit, Hawaii was a different team coming into the second half. The Rainbow Wahine replied to the Gauchos’ closing run with a 12-3 run in the opening minutes of the third, forcing UCSB to call a timeout as its lead was trimmed to 39-31.
As Hawaii outscored UCSB 18-13 in the period, leading the team’s comeback was Toeaina, scoring 10 of her 19 points. Her efficient shot selection of driving to the basket for layups in addition to her mid-range shooting allowed Hawaii to come within its closest deficit of the game at 41-37.
But, the Rainbow Wahine defense could not stop the steady shooting of UCSB, who earned a 10-point lead 49-39 to end the quarter after a made three-pointer by freshman guard Aliceah Hernandez.
Unable to disrupt UCSB’s rhythmic shooting night, Hawaii never overcame its double-figure deficit.
Guiding the Gauchos to their fourth road win of the season was the fourth quarter play of both Edelman and redshirt junior point guard Drea Toler.
The two combined for 14 points in the last 10 minutes of regulation. After a quiet first three quarters, scoring just four points, Toler’s 3-of-3 shooting in the fourth was essential to UCSB closing the game.
Playing all 10 minutes of the period, the elusive guard was responsible for all eight of the Gauchos’ points in the final 2 and a half minutes of the game. She was effective in both penetrating and finishing at the rim as well as at the free-throw line where she went 4-of-6 on the night.
Toler led all bench players in scoring with 12 points as she went 4-of-6 from the field, helping UCSB lock up its victory.
UCSB will continue its road leg of games, resuming play this Thursday, Feb. 16 at UC Riverside at 5 p.m.