Following Friday night’s game against the San Diego State Aztecs, the UCSB women’s basketball team is no longer in the midst of a losing streak.
The Gauchos beat the Aztecs by a final score of 77-64 despite a slow start and gained some much-needed momentum at home. Picking up only their second win of the regular season, the Gauchos now stand at 2-9 overall. But, more importantly, UCSB’s nine-game losing streak is over.
Meanwhile, SDSU has now fallen in its last two games and holds a record of 6-5.
Following the win, redshirt senior forward Drew Edelman understood the significance of earning the win before the winter break.
“We all wanted to end it on a good note, come back here in a more positive light,” Edelman said. “It’s been [a question of] ‘when are we going to figure it out? ‘When are we going to get a win?,’ so it was just really imperative that we figured it out tonight and we did, so we were able to get it.”
Both UCSB and SDSU started the game appearing a bit rusty on both ends of the court. After winning the tip, the Aztecs got things rolling with a Khalia Lark jumper. Lark later hit a three to score five of her team-high 14 points in the first quarter.
The Gauchos struggled offensively yet again in the first period of play, managing to score only 7 points. Sarah Bates got the Gauchos on the board to tie the game at 2-2, her only points of the quarter.
A layup and a pair of free throws from redshirt senior Drew Edelman plus a single free throw by Chaya Durr rounded out the Santa Barbara 7-point effort. The Gauchos gave up an 8-1 run to the Aztecs to end the quarter, finding themselves down 16-7 and the subjects of an animated speech from their head coach. In the quarter, Santa Barbara shot a dismal 15.4 field goal percentage while going 0-5 from beyond the arc.
Head coach Bonnie Henrickson spoke to her team’s performance after the game; “Sometimes you’ve got to find a way to win and remember how to win, it’s been a while. We’re capable of so much more, we’ve practiced well through all of this.”
Despite their slow start and disappointing first quarter, the Gauchos turned things around in a major way in the second quarter. Shooting a much-improved 64.3 percent and going 5-of-8 from three-point land helped Santa Barbara put the Aztecs on their heels and take the lead going into halftime.
The Gauchos showed energy on the defensive end, getting stops to build momentum as more of their shots fell on the other end. Locking down defensively, UCSB held SDSU to only 10 points in the quarter and forced the Aztecs to shoot 35.7 percent from the field. With 6:45 remaining in the half, Edelman got a layup to go off a nice feed from Sarah Bates to put the Gauchos within a point, 18-17.
The teams traded buckets until close to the end of the quarter, when Henrickson subbed Tal Sahar into the game. Sahar entered the game with her team down 26-23 at the 2:13 mark. In the final minutes of the half, Sahar gave the Gauchos a 7-0 run to take their first lead of the game.
The redshirt sophomore leaked out twice for fast break layups and hit a corner three; however, Sahar would not return until the end of the game. UCSB went into halftime with plenty of momentum from their 23-point quarter, up on the Aztecs 30-26.
Nonetheless, Edelman spoke to her team’s defensive intensity following the game.
“Usually the ability to take shots isn’t our problem, it’s definitely on the defensive end,” she said. “We were able to get a lot more stops tonight than we have been able to in the previous nights and also our communication has gotten a lot better.”
Only up by four at the start of the second half, Santa Barbara found a way to keep its foot on the gas, scoring 27 points in the third quarter.
With starting freshman point guard Danae Miller getting in foul trouble early, senior guard Makala Roper was tasked with more minutes. Roper controlled the ball and was instrumental in working the ball into Edelman. Henrickson had high praise for her senior guard at the end of the game.
“[Roper] was really good for really long stretches, I mean really good,” Henrickson said. “She made good decisions with the ball, let go of it, keep it, drive it at the rim, she was good.”
Edelman herself had a dominant quarter, scoring 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting.
Roper ended the game with 11 points and a game-high 8 assists. With just over three minutes to go in the quarter, the game was close with the Gauchos up 45-40. Sarah Bates hit a three ball to extend the Santa Barbara lead to 8, then the Gauchos started pouring it on, going on a 12-0 run.
With Santa Barbara rolling, SDSU was simply outmatched and looked dismantled. Edelman’s 15-point quarter was part of her season-high 25 points, and the talented forward pulled down 10 boards to record a double-double. Shooting 71.4 percent in the quarter, UCSB found itself up on the Aztecs 57-40 heading into the final ten minutes of play.
The fourth quarter was SDSU’s best, as they score 24 points; however, it wasn’t enough to make the game interesting. Santa Barbara was outscored by four in the quarter, but the Gauchos converted 11 of 12 free throws to finish out the game and secure the victory.
Freshman guard Sarah Bates played the whole game for Santa Barbara, aside from going to the bench a few seconds before being summoned back due to foul trouble of her teammates. Bates was huge for her team in getting the win. The freshman had 15 points to go along with 7 boards and was a vocal leader on defense.
In the first time since 1999, Santa Barbara defeated the Aztecs. SDSU struggled carrying out their game plan against the Gauchos, losing the battle in the paint by a ten-point deficit and being outrebounded 35-23.
McKynzie Fort, the Aztecs’ leading scorer on the season, was handled well by the Santa Barbara defense, as she was held to just 10 points and a single rebound in 38 minutes.
UCSB will now have a short break for the holidays before returning to action for its last non-conference game against New Mexico State next Friday.