The UCSB women’s basketball team hits the road again tonight to make the trek up Highway 101 to battle Cal Poly.
The Gauchos just came off two impressive road wins against Pacific and Long Beach State, which extended their conference-winning streak to 49 games. Santa Barbara (13-6, 7-0 in the Big West) defeated Cal Poly (8-12, 2-5) in its meeting earlier this season, topping the Mustangs 74-48 at the Thunderdome.
Following last weekend’s victories, Head Coach Mark French gave Santa Barbara a much deserved break from practice early in the week, but the team will still be ready for the Mustangs.
“I thought it was appropriate to give the kids some time off to rest after the big road trip,” French said. “The pace really accelerates after this week, and things are going to get very hectic. I wanted the team to have a chance to charge their batteries, but we’re going to go after it now.”
Santa Barbara has been focusing in practice this week while preparing for Cal Poly, hoping to avoid the pitfalls of looking past the Mustangs after the big road wins.
“We certainly aspire to come out and practice really hard,” French said. “Every time we get onto that court, we need to give a great effort. Then it shouldn’t matter who we’re playing. But I think these kids have a lot of pride in Gaucho basketball, so I’m not unduly concerned [about a letdown].”
The Gauchos have been concentrating on problem areas in practice, and no area has hurt UCSB more than turnovers. Junior forward Kayte Christensen said hanging onto the ball was an emphasis in practice this week.
“We’re always working on our turnovers,” Christensen said. “They are something that we are constantly trying to improve on, and it’s finally coming along. We’ve been able to fall back on our defense all year, so now we’re trying to improve on the turnovers and bring along our offense.”
UCSB knows that it will have to be hitting on all cylinders in order to go on the road and defeat a very competitive Mustangs team.
“For Cal Poly we know that we have to play hard,” sophomore point guard Debby Caine said. “It’s always tough to play up there, so we’ve just got to be focused and ready to play.”