The #18 UCSB women’s basketball team has waited all week to travel to Northridge to receive its prize: a road win and a place in the record books.
For the Gauchos (11-2 overall, 4-0 in the Big West), it was just a matter of time before they sacked hapless CSUN on Thursday night to snag their 11th win in 13 tries and leap off to the best start to a season in Santa Barbara history. UCSB jumped out early, grabbing a 26-8 lead, and coasted from there to an effortless 77-43 victory.
“We’re very happy about what we’ve accomplished,” sophomore guard Mia Fisher said. “The coaching staff has really looked at readjusting our overall season goals but we know that we still have to take this thing one game at a time.”
The Gauchos shot 51.9 percent from the field and held the Matadors (1-14, 1-3) to just 17 first-half points, to complete the season sweep over Northridge this season. Santa Barbara outlasted CSUN 73-41 on Jan. 7 in the Thunderdome. UCSB has won six straight contests and 31 in a row in the Big West.
Once again, Santa Barbara spread the wealth offensively. Junior center Lindsay Taylor torched the Matadors in the paint, sinking six of 10 shots. Taylor, who was poked in the eye midway through the second half, left the game but came back to finish with 16 points.
Senior guards and co-captains Jess Hansen and Debby Caine scorched the nets from behind the arc. Hansen, who has struggled in the last several games from the field, nailed 3-4 three-pointers and settled for nine points. Caine was perfect, registering 4-4 from behind the line, and tallied 13 points on the evening.
Santa Barbara utilized its bench to give minutes to reserves and save some energy for its game against Pacific. Sophomore guard Roshawn Perkins scored her first career points with the Gauchos to extend the team’s lead to 62-31. Perkins, a walk-on in 2003 and a member of the UCSB track team, finished the game with four points and three boards in seven minutes.
“I was really excited to get out there and score and help contribute,” Perkins said.
Sophomore forward Brandy Richardson, who leads the conference in rebounding with 10.2 per game, notched 10 rebounds.
“Overall, I thought we made a good defensive effort tonight,” UCSB Head Coach Mark French said. “Now we can get a little rest and head up to Stockton.”
Santa Barbara hits the road again on Saturday night against Pacific (1-2, 4-10), which notched its first conference victory over second-place Cal Poly 63-50 at home last night. Although this will be their first meeting with the Tigers this season, the Gauchos remember UOP all too well from last season. In 2002, the two teams met in the Big West Tournament Championship, where the Gauchos barely survived, advancing to the NCAA Tournament by squeaking out a 57-56 win in Anaheim.
“After playing them in last year’s conference championship, we have a lot of respect for [Pacific],” Fisher said after scoring 14 points on 6-8 shooting versus CSUN. “They’re going to try to turn the game against us into an opportunity to turn their season around.”
Tip-off starts at 7 in the Alex G. Spanos Center in Stockton on Saturday night. KCSB 91.9 FM will broadcast the game live with Gaucho Talk Show beginning 20 minutes prior to the start.