Maybe UCSB Head Coach Mark French had a reason for scheduling two top-25 opponents in the Gauchos’ first three games.
Already having played both Pac-10 power Stanford and Big-10 member Penn State, Santa Barbara displayed no sense of awe while pummeling 2000-01 Women’s National Invitational Tournament Champion Ohio State 70-50 on Thursday night in Columbus. With the win, UCSB improves to 2-2 on the season.
Forced to play without the services of starting point guard junior Debby Caine, who sat out with a concussion, the Gauchos nevertheless got off to a quick start against the Buckeyes. Freshman guard Mia Fisher took Caine’s place in the starting lineup.
Santa Barbara jumped all over OSU early, bolting out to a 19-4 lead. Fisher started the Gauchos’ burst with a layup that was followed by a jumper from sophomore center Lindsay Taylor and a jumper from junior guard Jess Hansen that increased the UCSB advantage to 6-0. After a pair of short jumpers from freshmen forwards Kristen Mann and Brandy Richardson, Hansen then connected from beyond the arc. Senior forward Kayte Christensen completed Santa Barbara’s run with a jumper and a layup.
Hansen’s hot shooting would continue throughout the night, as she led the Gauchos with 18 points.
Playing comfortably with their sizeable lead, the Gauchos cruised to leads of 25-7 and 38-13. Ohio State closed the half on a positive note, using a 10-7 run to pull within 45-23 as the teams headed to the locker rooms.
Santa Barbara found the going much more difficult in the second half, but thankfully for the Gauchos, so did OSU. Both teams struggled to put points on the board early in the second frame and the Buckeyes used UCSB’s cold shooting to their advantage, pulling to within 12 at 52-40.
But the Gauchos responded like a team used to playing top-notch competition, putting together an 8-2 run to gain some breathing room. Fisher, playing with savvy beyond her years, started the key run with a jumper and ended it with another.
With the score at 60-42, UCSB seemed content to trade baskets with the Buckeyes to close out the game. Though Santa Barbara shot only 42.9 percent in the second half, it managed to hold OSU to just 34.3 percent from the field in the second frame, and 32.3 percent for the game.
The Gauchos’ final scoring came from its star of the game, as Hansen buried two free throws and a final jumper to punctuate her season high. In addition to Hansen, the Gauchos also put three others scorers in double figures: Taylor scored 12 to go along with her game-high 12 rebounds, Christensen chipped in with 11 and freshman forward Kristen Mann dropped in 10.
Santa Barbara will continue on its longest road trip of the season when it flies to Charlottesville to take on the University of Virginia this Sunday. UCSB and UVA squared off last year when the Gauchos topped the Cavaliers 78-66. Tip-off is scheduled for 11 a.m.