Freshman point guard Ana Onaindia sank her first shot as a Gaucho from the arc just five seconds after coming off the bench in the UCSB women’s basketball team’s 74-57 win at Saint Mary’s yesterday afternoon.
Onaindia was the second-highest shooter for the Gauchos, sinking four of six attempts from behind the arc for 12 points and proving that Santa Barbara’s trouble from the perimeter in exhibition play was nothing for Head Coach Mark French to worry about.
“We’ve all been eagerly awaiting Ana getting back and healthy,” French said. “She’s not shy about shooting the ball and we’re not shy about encouraging her.”
Santa Barbara came out with a balanced attack, sinking shots from both the interior and exterior. Although the Gauchos have been consistently good inside the paint, Onaindia and sophomore guard Erin O’Bryan gave solid performances from what many thought would be a weak outside game.
“I think, as a team, we did a really good job getting each other the ball,” sophomore center Jenna Green said.
As a team, the Gauchos hit 53 percent of their three-point attempts, but the point leaders again came from the frontcourt. Senior forward Kristen Mann and Green led the Gauchos with 19 points apiece, with Green tying her career high.
“[Green] plays hard all the time,” French said. “She’s very consistent and she’s a very fine scorer down low.”
Green also shared a team-high eight rebounds with senior forward Brandy Richardson, who is consistently high on the boards.
Additionally, UCSB cut down its turnovers by almost half since its exhibition opener, recording just 12 turnovers to Saint Mary’s 11.
The Gaels, who fell behind midway through the first half and were never able to recover, were led by Triola Jackson, who scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
“I thought we controlled her well,” French said.
Jackson went five-for-five from the free throw line, while Saint Mary’s echoed her 100 percent performance, going nine-for-nine as a team.
However, the Gaels did not outshoot or outplay Santa Barbara in any other aspect of the game, allowing the Gauchos to take their 11th straight season-opener.
“This is a really good start for us,” Green said. “I think we were really able to pick it up and make those changes.”
Due to UCSB’s large cushion, French was able to empty his bench, giving a number of freshmen a chance at the floor.
“We got a chance to get everyone in the game,” French said. “I think it was a lot of fun for the players. It’s a boost for them to get some joy.”
The Gauchos come home to a slew of games in the Thunderdome against Bowl Championship Series conference opponents starting Friday when they host Michigan at 7 p.m.