And another one bites the dust.
The UCSB women’s basketball team extended its season-long win streak to seven games with an 88-54 victory over Utah State Saturday night in the Thunderdome.
Senior center Lindsay Taylor tied a season high, scoring 26 points and pulling down five rebounds in only 24 minutes of action to lead the Gauchos to their 24th straight home win over Big West Conference opponents.
“About a month ago we weren’t playing as well as we wanted to and [Head] Coach [Mark] French brought us back to the core of our program, which is defense and intense practices and that’s what we’ve been doing for the last month,” Taylor said.
From the outset, the Aggies tried to get the Gauchos in foul trouble. Utah State’s first four pointcame from the charity stripe.
“That was part of our game plan, but we felt that was something that Lindsay Taylor had a tendency to do, and that was foul early,” Utah State Head Coach Raegan Pebley said. “It wasn’t so much that we were trying to run plays for that, but we felt she might do it on her own and part of our game. Game in and game out for our post players is being aggressive.”
But the plan didn’t work as Santa Barbara ran out to a 16-4 lead five minutes into the contest. Taylor scored six points in the opening minutes as the Gauchos pounded the undersized Aggies inside. Utah State responded to UCSB’s run and pulled to within 22-14 when freshman forward Anne-Marie Torp connected on one of Utah State four three-pointers in the half. French called a timeout and the Gauchos regrouped.
Santa Barbara responded and outscored the Aggies 21-12 to close out the half to secure a 43-26 halftime lead. Thirteen of the Gauchos 17 first-half baskets came from inside the key as Santa Barbara shot 58.6 percent from the field during the half.
The Aggies had to rely on a more diverse attack, spreading the ball around with seven player scoring baskets in the first half, led by Torp with six. Utah State connected on four of their nine three-point attempts for a 44.4 percentage behind the arc.
But from the field, the Aggies only shot 33.3 percent for the half as the Gauchos continued their impressive defense. Taylor finished the half with four blocks and Santa Barbara finished with nine turnovers.
The second half was more of the same as the Gauchos ran out to leads as high as 38 points. The Aggies only managed eight baskets in the second half as Santa Barbara outscored Utah State 45-28 in the second half.
“Santa Barbara, probably the last two and a half minutes of the first half, and through most of the second half, came out and out-hustled us and played really hard,” Pebley said, “That’s something Coach French and his staff has really established as one of his team’s traditions, no matter how far they’re up or how far they are down and it’s a credit to them and their players.”
The half was highlighted by fantastic passes by senior guard April McDivitt and junior forward Kate Bauman. Bauman scored a career-high 10 points and pulled down five rebounds in her best game at UCSB since transferring from Iowa State University last season.
“I thought I played hard. It was a lot of fun,” Bauman said. “I thought we all had a lot of really good energy tonight, and we’ve been preparing and practiced well for this game and we played well against Idaho and that carried over.”
Junior guard Mia Fisher finished with 13 points and four assists while getting some minutes at the point guard spot.
“It was nice to get Mia some work at the point tonight. It’s been something we’ve been trying to do,” French said. “Without many repetitions at the point guard spot, she seems to have that flare for being able to control it well and obviously she has been leading us in assists at the two spot.”
McDivitt tallied a game-high six assists and scored five points while junior forward Brandy Richardson led the Gauchos in rebounding again with nine. Freshman forward Jenna Green also posted a solid game, finishing with nine points and seven rebounds.
“I though April was one of the ones in the first half that was really playing hard,” French said. “Across the board, I don’t think I could say that about too many of the Gauchos, but I thought she [was] giving great effort, particularly in the first half. I thought April’s energy and hustle was world class and where we need everybody to be for 40 minutes.”
Santa Barbara finished the night shooting 54.7 percent from the field, the second straight game they have shot better than 50 percent. UCSB also won the battle on the boards, outrebounding the Aggies 45-32 in the game. It was also the second straight game the Gauchos had more assists than turnovers, finishing with 25 assists and 13 turnovers as a team.
“We were unhappy with the first half. We had eight or nine turnovers, but certainly these last two games we’ve taken a step back in the right direction,” French said. “Although I thought we were paying better defensively at Fullerton and Riverside on the road, we’ve had some turnover problems and that is something that is critical for us.”
The Gauchos will get a week off before they travel to San Luis Obispo next Saturday to take on Cal Poly at 7 p.m. in Mott Gym.
“I think it’ll be good to have the day off, and injuries are pretty common at this time of the year for them,” French said.