In a tuneup for the imminent 2002-03 season, the UCSB women’s basketball team out-dueled a pesky and talented West Coast All-Stars team 95-81 on Saturday night at the Thunderdome.
The West Coast All-Stars, who feature alumnae from around the country – including former Gaucho guard Michelle Duckworth and Los Angeles Sparks forward LaTasha Byears – provided full-court pressure and a transition game to prepare the defending Big West champions for a tough regular season.
“I liked the first half a lot and I’m happy we won,” UCSB Head Coach Mark French said. “They’ve got some pretty good players out there.”
Sophomore Mia Fisher led Santa Barbara with 18 points. Fisher, a Big West All-Freshman team member last year, was one of seven Gauchos who went for double figures. Showing no sign of a sophomore slump, Fisher went 6-9 from the field and displayed the same composure with the ball that set her apart from other freshmen last year.
“I was still nervous, but I have a little more confidence this year,” Fisher said of her impressive 2002-03 debut.
Also worthy of optimism were junior center Lindsay Taylor and sophomore forward Kristen Mann. Taylor, the Big West Conference 2002 Tourney MVP, contributed 16 points and 12 rebounds to the cause. Mann, the 2001-02 Big West Freshman of the Year, picked up right where she left off last year, going 6-10 from the floor while racking up 14 points and five rebounds.
“I’m playing a bit more physical this year and I’m enjoying it a little more this year,” Mann said.
The Gauchos held a comfortable lead for the majority of the game, pushing their comfort level to as high as 23 points in the second half on a Fisher layup. Apparently a little too content, though, UCSB was later taken aback by the desperate All-Stars, who increased the tempo to cut the lead to 83-71 with 3:22 left to play.
The comeback was just a twinkle in the eyes of the All-Stars, and UCSB eventually handled the press adequately and consumed layup after layup. The up-tempo pace was not necessarily troublesome for the Gauchos, who currently suit up only 10 players.
“We’re not going to pass up any open shots,” French said. “We’re probably better in the open court than in the half court right now.”