Excessive turnovers turned the UCSB women’s basketball team’s exhibition game against Czech club team Strakonice into an inter-team battle despite the Gauchos’ 46-56 win Sunday night in the Thunderdome.
Santa Barbara was plagued by 27 turnovers and the unfamiliar zone defense Strakonice pressed on the Gauchos.
“We did really well on the boards, but turnovers – we definitely need to cut those in half,” senior forward Kristen Mann said. “We haven’t really practiced against playing the zone that much, so it was kind of difficult.”
Despite its difficulties adjusting to the zone, UCSB sank 21 of 49 shots, while keeping Strakonice to just 13 for 51. Mann and sophomore Jenna Green each contributed 13 points from below the basket with Mann grabbing a game-high nine rebounds in 28 minutes of play.
Junior Hillary Jager, who returned to the Gaucho blue and gold for her first game after a brief absence from Santa Barbara, racked up six points and seven rebounds in just 14 minutes of play before going down with a knee injury with 3:33 left in the game.
“I think the entire team is distraught right now,” Mann said. “That was very hard for us to witness.”
Although four other Gauchos, all newcomers, did not play due to injuries, Head Coach Mark French emptied his bench to give the remaining 11 healthy players a chance on the hardwood. Freshmen guard Sha’Rae Gibbons and forward Brittanie Taylor-James made their UCSB debuts but did not contribute any points.
Santa Barbara collected a total 52 rebounds to move the ball down the court.
“I thought we rebounded pretty well,” French said. “There were definitely flashes of a solid defense; that was my biggest concern.”
The exhibition exposed the Gauchos’ early season weaknesses: an out-of-sync offense and turnover trouble.
“It’s a good starting point,” Green said. “We have a long way to go, but it’s a good way to judge where we need to go.”