Entering Thursday’s game against Santa Barbara, Utah State hoped they would mount a competitive effort against the eight consecutive Big West champs. Their mission failed. The UCSB women’s basketball team dominated the Aggies throughout much of the night and defeated Utah State 86-51 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Senior center Lindsay Taylor led the Gauchos with 23 points on nine of 11 shooting from the field with six rebounds and a perfect five for five from the free throw line. Taylor’s 23 points was a season high, seven off her career-best 30 points against Long Beach State last season.
Five players scored in double figures for the Gauchos, and the team shot 57.9 percent from the field to earn their third win of Big West Conference play. The Aggies fared far worse, shooting only 34.5 percent from the field and converting on only 19 of their 55 shots.
The Aggies thrilled and excited the 550 in attendance with an opening three-pointer from sophomore forward Ashley Anderson, but the Gauchos responded with two quick layups and never looked back. Santa Barbara outshot Utah State 51.7 percent to 32.0 percent, respectively, in the opening half, en route to a 36-23 halftime lead.
Santa Barbara (9-4, 3-0 in the Big West) shot an astounding 64.3 percent from the field in the second half as the struggling Aggies could only watch in awe at the conference powerhouse.
Junior guard Stephanie Grant and freshman guard Christina Zdenek each scored a team-high nine points for the winless Aggies. Junior guard Virginia Jennings added eight points. Sophomore forwards Ali Aird and Jessica Freeman each had a team-high five rebounds . With the loss, the Aggies fell to 0-10 overall and 0-2 in conference play.
Junior forward Brandy Richardson continued her impressive play with a team-high nine rebounds and 15 points on five of eight shooting. She also finished five of five from the charity stripe in 33 minutes of action. The Gauchos converted on 13 of their 14 free throw attempts for 94.7 percent from the free throw line, the second highest single-game free throw percentage in UCSB history.
Junior forward Kristen Mann also had an impressive night, finishing with 18 points and three rebounds. Junior guard Mia Fisher had 15 points and freshman forward Jenna Green had 12. Freshman Erin O’Bryan, in for injured guard April McDivitt, tied with senior forward Lisa Willett for a game-high five assists.
The Gauchos travel to Moscow, Idaho to play University of Idaho on Saturday. The Vandals are 2-0 in the Big West after disposing of Cal Poly, 84-53, on Thursday night.