After giving up 50 points in one half against Idaho three weeks ago, the Gauchos have gotten defensive.
With a new focus placed on defensive pressure, the UCSB women’s basketball team won its fifth straight game with a 67-48 win over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday at Titan Gym.
Junior forward Kristen Mann led the Gauchos with 15 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes of action, as Santa Barbara snapped Fullerton’s three-game win streak.
UCSB held the Titans scoreless for the first 6:29 of the game and didn’t give up a field goal until the 13:14 mark when senior guard Tamara Quinn converted on a fast break layup to cut the Gauchos lead to 10-2. Quinn responded during the next possession with another fast break layup. The teams traded baskets before Santa Barbara went on a 15-2 run to pull to a 32-12 lead with 3:12 remaining in the half. The Gauchos entered halftime with a 36-18 lead, holding their opponent to under 20 first-half points for the fifth time this season.
The first half was statistically dismal for both teams, as neither shot better than 40 percent. The Gauchos held the Titans to 28.6 percent from the field and 0 for 9 from three-point range in the first half. Santa Barbara didn’t shoot much better from the field, posting a 37 percent shooting mark from the field in the first half. However, the Gauchos did shoot well from behind the arc, nailing five of their seven three-point attempts for 71 percent accuracy. UCSB also shot a blistering 78.6 percent from the free throw line.
Fullerton mounted an impressive comeback after halftime, holding the Gauchos to just three points during the first six and a half minutes of the second half. The only basket Santa Barbara converted during that time frame was a three-pointer by senior forward Lisa Willett, as the 281 fans in attendance began to get back into the game. After the Willett basket, Fullerton scored eight straight points to pull within seven points at 39-32 with 13:27 to play. The Gauchos then responded with a basket by senior center Lindsay Taylor and a three-pointer by senior guard April McDivitt.
The Titans remained close until Santa Barbara went on a 16-1 run that was highlighted by consecutive three-point buckets by Mann and Willett. Santa Barbara pulled to their largest lead of the night at 64-36 with 5:04 to play. Fullerton mounted an impressive 12-3 run to finish the game, but the Gauchos’ 28-point lead was too much for the Titans to overcome.
Taylor finished with 14 points and four rebounds, and McDivitt finished with nine points and 3 three assists. Willett and junior forward Brandy Richardson each had six points and seven rebounds. After struggling from the fields in the first half, the Gauchos shot 47.6 percent in the second half and 41.7 percent for the game. Santa Barbara outrebounded the Titans 42-30 and forced 18 turnovers.
Charlee Underwood led Fullerton with 15 points and five rebounds. Quinn finished with 12 points and four assists and played a game high 35 minutes. The Titans only shot 32.1 percent from the field. Fullerton did play well defensively, forcing 13 turnovers.
Santa Barbara received another solid performance from Mann, who led the Gauchos in scoring for the third time in four games. It was the 16th time UCSB scored in double digits, and Mann is only 20 points shy of 1,000 for her career.
Despite the mounting victories, UCSB is still having trouble controlling the ball. The Gauchos were plagued by turnovers throughout the second half, as Santa Barbara turned the ball over 14 times during the second half, keeping the Titans within striking distance. The Gauchos finished with 21 turnovers on the night, compared to only 16 assists. It was the third straight game that Santa Barbara had more turnovers than assists. For the season, the Gauchos have committed 286 turnovers to only 259 assists.
The Idaho Vandals come to the Thunderdome on Thursday, as the Gauchos try to avenge their only Big West loss of the season, suffered at Idaho on Jan. 10. Santa Barbara gave up 50 second-half points to the Vandals, as sophomore forward Emily Faurholt scored 28 points and junior guard Heather Thoelke made five of her six three-point attempts to bury the Gauchos in Moscow.