Following its 30-point loss to No. 7 UCLA Sunday afternoon, the UCSB women’s basketball team is hoping to turn things around in its return to the Thunderdome this week.
The Gauchos have lost their last seven games, landing them with a dismal record of 1-7 through eight non-conference contests.
Unfortunately for Santa Barbara, the difficult schedule will continue on Thursday when it takes on Loyola Marymount University.
While UCSB has struggled to find stability so far this season, the Lions have gotten off to an impressive start.
Before losing to the University of Southern California on Friday, LMU was undefeated. With their loss to USC, the Lions are polar opposite to the Gauchos, sitting at 7-1.
Despite their 1-7 start, the Gauchos have found success when they run their offense as envisioned by Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson.
Henrickson has aimed to orchestrate her team’s offense so that the ball moves through their star in the post, senior forward Drew Edelman. Edelman, while battling a few instances of injuries this year, is averaging team-highs in both points (14.4) and rebounds (8.3) per game.
However, it seems Edelman is hoping to work her way back to the form she displayed last season when she led the Big West in field-goal percentage (61.4).
Recently emerging to help Edelman in the scoring department has been redshirt junior guard Sarah Porter. Porter is averaging 10 points, 4.1 rebounds and two assists per game on the season.
She has been living and dying by the three-ball this season, making 10 shots from beyond the arc in the team’s last three contests.
However, she started the season only making threes in the first six games.
Overall, Porter is shooting 30 percent from downtown and will hopefully start finding the net on a more consistent basis.
In fact in her last three games, she has already shown to be more consistent, knocking down 10 of 25 deep balls.
Although the Gauchos have also shown glimpses of hot shooting, they should perhaps avoid getting into a high-scoring contest with LMU.
UCSB this season is averaging 62.8 ppg, about 14 points less a game than the Lions who average nearly 76 points per contest.
Contributing to its strong offensive presence were valuable performances made by a few talented players.
Standing out for the Lions is junior Cheyanne Wallace, who is averaging a team-high 19.5 points along with grabbing 7.8 rebounds per game.
Wallace was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week on Nov. 27.
Standing at 6’0” in a guard/forward position, Wallace posted 26 ppg and a little over eight boards per game during the week in which she earned the WCC honor.
She will certainly be on the Santa Barbara coaching staff’s radar this week, as it will attempt to slow down one of LMU’s best offensive weapons.
The difficulty for the Gauchos is that LMU has accompanying scoring options to supplement Wallace.
The Lions have also been getting strong contributions from guard Gabby Green. The 6’2” redshirt junior is in the midst of her debut season at LMU, as she transferred from Berkeley after playing for the Golden Bears for two years.
In her first year as a Lion, Green has been putting up well-rounded stat lines.
Green is averaging 15.9 points to go with 6.4 boards and nearly four assists per game.
Also, Green has so far blocked 10 shots and recorded 21 steals.
The closest other Lion to these kinds of numbers is none other than Wallace, who has six blocks and 11 steals on the year.
The Gauchos will surely have their hands full Thursday night trying to contain LMU’s stars, but UCSB knows it has players who can find the net too such as Edelman and Porter.
In last year’s meeting between Santa Barbara and the Lions, LMU took the close victory over the Gauchos by just two points, 57-55.
The year before that loss, the Gauchos also came up short against LMU, so it is likely they will look to redeem themselves.
Thursday night’s action will tip off at 7 p.m. against Loyola Marymount at the Thunderdome where the Gauchos will look to end their seven-game losing streak and earn their first home win.
A version of this story appeared on p. 8 of the Dec. 7, 2017, edition of the Daily Nexus.