The UCSB women’s basketball team secured at least the second seed in the Big West Conference Tournament with a 64-48 victory over Northridge Saturday night in the Thunderdome.
With the Gauchos’ ninth straight victory this season, senior center Lindsay Taylor became the third leading scorer in the program’s history.
“I never really came into college thinking about being the leading scorer,” Taylor said. “It just came along kind of silently since I’ve been playing here, and it has a lot to do with my teammates.”
Taylor finished the night with 21 points and 10 rebounds, her third straight double-double.
A feisty young team, Northridge gave the Gauchos a scare when the teams last met at the Matadome January 22. UCSB squeaked by with a narrow 71-72 victory, but would not allow the Matadors to come within more than 11 points on Saturday.
Senior guard April McDivitt opened play with a basket from behind the arc and led a fast UCSB offense to counter a relatively short Northridge defense.
“If you look at the match-ups, it’s a David and Goliath look,” Northridge Head Coach Tammy Holder said. “Santa Barbara has such balance and so many people in all positions that can create and score offensively.”
Santa Barbara (18-5 overall, 12-1 in the Big West) jumped to an early 11-2 lead by the fourth minute of play as junior guard Mia Fisher capitalized on consecutive Gaucho steals to break away and put three lay-ups through the net.
“I really get excited when I make lay-ups because it’s really the easiest job in basketball,” Fisher said. “I really give a lot of the credit to my teammates because they do the hard work.”
The Gauchos went into the locker room leading 32-21, having shot 50 percent from both the field and the free throw line.
UCSB continuously forced the Matadors (4-19, 3-12) to take risky shots with just seconds left on the shot-clock and held the Matadors to a 28.6 shooting percentage from the floor. Northridge is the third straight opponent to be held below 30 percent.
“In terms of our defensive intensity, I really think we’ve picked it up,” UCSB Head Coach Mark French said.
Following a lay-up by Fisher with 9:13 left in the game, Santa Barbara transitioned to defense but was plagued by three fouls under the Matadors’ net. Freshman guard Alex Johnson finally put the ball through the hoop for Northridge with 7:54 left in the contest.
“Obviously we don’t want to be playing defense for that long,” senior guard Lisa Willett said. “I think it was more of the offensive rebounds that they were getting that was causing all the problems.”
With less than a minute left to play, the Matadors made two additional shots, but the Gauchos ran the clock out to secure their 25th consecutive conference victory in the Thunderdome.