The UCSB women’s basketball team has hit its stride and is now on a four-game winning streak after an 88-67 victory over UC Riverside on Thursday night at the Student Recreation Center.
Junior forward Kristen Mann converted on her first four shots and led the Gauchos with 21 points on nine of 12 shooting as Santa Barbara won their fourth straight game.
The Highlanders (4-13, 3-5 in the Big West) had upset on their mind from the outset of the game and pulled out to a 5-2 lead when junior guard Casandra Reeves converted on her first of six three-pointers on the night. But after senior center Lindsay Taylor’s first basket, Mann quickly took control of the game of the game, making a basket and drawing a foul to pull UCSB to within one. Senior guard April McDivitt responded on the next possession with a three-point basket to put the Gauchos ahead 9-7, a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.
Behind the strong play of junior guard Mia Fisher, freshman forward Jenna Green and Mann, Santa Barbara went on a 18-3 run before the Highlanders could regroup. Reeves nailed four three-pointers in the first half to keep the game interesting for the Riverside faithful. But Santa Barbara continued to play well on both ends of the court, shooting 51.4 percent from the field in the first half while scoring 19 points off turnovers to enter the half with a 45-29 lead.
UCSB entered the break out-rebounding the Highlanders 26-20 and out-scored Riverside in the paint 24-6. Mann led the Gauchos with 12 points.
Senior guard April McDivitt put a damper into the Highlanders’ hope of a comeback, nailing a three-pointer during the first possession of the second half, and the Gauchos never looked back. Riverside pulled to within 11 points with five minutes to play but would get no closer.
Santa Barbara (13-5, 7-1 in the Big West) played tough defense throughout the night, holding the Highlanders to 38.1 percent from the field and forcing 13 turnovers. The only player Santa Barbara couldn’t control was Reeves, who tied a career-high of 30 points that was set last week against University of the Pacific.
The Gauchos had nine players that registered points in the contest. Taylor finished with 15 points on seven of 13 from the field with a team-high 10 rebounds. Green was a perfect five of five from the field for 10 points, and junior forward Brandy Richardson, senior guard Lisa Willett and McDivitt each finished with eight points. Fisher contributed five assists.
Santa Barbara shot 35 of 62 from the field for the game, including a blistering 16 of 25 for 64 percent during the second half. The Gauchos also out-rebounded the Highlanders 47-29 while converting on seven of their 14 three-point attempts.
About the only thing UCSB did wrong was commit 19 turnovers during the game. The Gauchos set a pregame goal of only 12 turnovers, but that was quickly put to rest after Santa Barbara committed 8 first-half turnovers.
Santa Barbara travels to Cal State Fullerton to play on Saturday at 7 p.m.