Despite a positive start to the road game for the Gauchos, the UCSB Women’s Basketball team was blown out by USC on Thursday, 82-39.
Heading into the game, the team knew it would take a near-perfect performance to knock off a strong Trojan team that dominated both UC Riverside and Long Beach State in its first two games of the season. In addition, the team knew it would have to perform more efficiently on offense after scoring only 51 points per game in its first two games, shooting merely 23 percent from the floor in their last game against Cal State Bakersfield.
Unfortunately for the Gauchos, their offensive woes carried over on Thursday, with the team going 12-50 from the floor, with half of its made field goals from behind the arc (6-22 from three). In part, Santa Barbara’s offensive woes can be attributed to the defensive prowess of the Trojans, whose two starting guards–senior Aliyah Mazyckj and junior Minyon Moore–both made the Pac-12 All Defensive team. Mazyckj and Moore helped shut down sophomore guard Bri Anungwom, who paced the Gauchos with eight points but only shot 30 percent from the field.
Perhaps most paramount to the Trojans’ success was their domination on the interior, completely shutting down junior center Natalia Bruening. In the Gauchos’ first two games of the season, Bruening averaged double-digits in both points and rebounds. On Thursday; however, Bruening was completely shut out, recording both 0 points and 0 rebounds while also picking up four fouls.
UCSB hung around for the beginning portion of the game, taking an early lead in the first quarter and only trailing by six points at the end of the quarter. However, things got out of hand in a hurry, with USC scoring 19 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a comfortable 23 point lead into the locker room. After that, the Trojans pulled away, limiting a rattled Santa Barbara team to only 3 points in the third quarter.
One of the biggest differences between the two teams on Thursday was shot selection– a byproduct of playing an extremely experienced Trojan squad. In total, USC scored 38 of their 82 points in the paint, while the Gauchos scored only 8 of their 39 points from inside. Santa Barbara was also careless with the ball, committing 22 turnovers that in turn led to 28 points for the Trojans. On fast-break opportunities, USC chipped in 20 points while holding UCSB to 0 points in transition. Because of their inability to score easy, high-percentage shots, Santa Barbara was forced to settle for three-pointers–rarely a recipe for success in the college game.
Due to their elite shot selection, the Trojans were able to dissect a rather stout Santa Barbara defense, making 47.5 percent of their shots from the field. Mizyck led USC with 21 points, while Moore paced the team with 5 assists on the night. While the Trojans only shot 32 percent on deep from the night, they were able to clean up their misses on the offensive end, dominating Santa Barbara 41-26 on the boards.
Ultimately, this game should prove to be a good learning tool for a young and inexperienced Gauchos team that is struggling to find its footing so far this season. Unfortunately for UCSB, things don’t get any easier when the team returns home to face off against Loyola Marymount at home on Monday–an undefeated team that has already knocked off UCLA and the University of Arizona this season. That game, which will tip off Monday at 7 p.m. at the Thunderdome, will be another opportunity for this young Gaucho roster to grow and take on elite competition.
Brandon Victor currently serves as the assistant sports editor. He has covered men’s tennis, men’s soccer and women’s basketball in his two years at the Daily Nexus.