Friday night proved to be a slam dunk as the UCSB women’s basketball team exhibited their 18th nationally ranked status with a 96-30 win over the National Women’s Basketball League in the Thunderdome.
The Gauchos started off the night with a spark, putting 51 percent of their field goal attempts through the net and making 92.9 percent of their free throws while holding the NWBL to 17 points in the first half.
Although Santa Barbara improved statistically in the second half, going 17 for 30 from the field and two for three from behind the arc, the fire in the Gaucho’s eyes seemed to flicker and eventually burn out.
“I think finishing out games is going to be huge for us,” senior guard April McDivitt said. “To have the same intensity both halves is something we can get better at.”
McDivitt jump-started the game with her first of three three-pointers 28 seconds into the game and went on to lead all scorers with 19 points, shooting seven of eight from the field and two of three from the free throw line.
Scoring eight points off of fast breaks and turnovers, McDivitt beat the Women’s League one-on-one on just about every chance she could get.
“I love getting out and running the floor and my teammates got me the ball,” McDivitt said. “It’s just fun to play unselfish basketball.”
Five additional Gauchos scored in double-digits, with the emergence of freshman center Jenna Green making the largest impact under the basket. Green, who started in place of injured senior center Lindsay Taylor, finished the night with 18 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
“I’m very pleased with all five of our new players,” Head Coach Mark French said. “They’re all going to be very solid players for us this year as well as in the future.”
Junior forward Kristen Mann made her season debut by converting on six of 11 shots from the field and all of her shots from the free throw line and behind the arc. Having spent 12 games of the 2002-03 season on the bench with nagging injuries, Mann returned to the court posting five rebounds, two turnovers and four steals.
“We’ve made some big improvements from Monday to Friday,” Mann said. “I think that says a lot about our work ethic and about our coaching staff as well.”
Having had only two hours of practice, the NWBL, which is comprised of former collegiate standouts, had a dismal showing, making only 30 percent of its total field goal attempts. The only member of the team to finish in double-digit points was Petra Ujhelyi, formerly of South Carolina, who finished five of seven shots under the basket for 12 points, four rebounds and one block.
Santa Barbara, however, still has some fine tuning to do. In particular, the Gauchos had trouble executing plays.
“The big games are still going to be the ones with half-court execution, and we need to be very aware of not only relying on our full-court game, but also being able to pull it out and execute getting the shots we want, by the people we want, at the right moments when we need to,” French said. “The great teams aren’t going to let us score 40 points in transition.”