The Gauchos (7-7, 4-1 Big West) reasserted their position as the bossy elder sibling in the Big West Conference as they trounced their soon-to-be conference opponent Davis (5-11) 85-67 on Monday night.
The Aggies posted eight first-half three-pointers, but their outside shooting wouldn’t be enough to cause Santa Barbara much trouble. After a few defensive adjustments made by Head Coach Mark French at halftime, the Gauchos were able to pull away and finish with an 18-point margin.
“I thought we made reasonable adjustments at halftime tonight in terms of backing off our pressure of their point guard a little bit and also shortening our gaps up,” French said. “Between the two we were able to make them attack more in the middle of the court where our size and strength [worked to our advantage].”
Five Gauchos put up double-digits in scoring, including junior guard Karena Bonds and junior forward Autumn Nichols, who both picked up their career-highs with 17 and 14 points, respectively.
Senior guard Mia Fisher also scored 17 points after sinking her first five shots from the field. Senior forward Kristen Mann scored 14 points while sophomore guard Erin O’Bryan scored 12.
“[Karena] did great; she usually does things that don’t get noticed but that’s just as important as the things that do get pointed out, [like points],” Fisher said. “Finally she’s getting the recognition that she deserves.”
Davis’ charge in the first half was led by guard Laura Thomas who came off the bench to post 10 first-half points, including a trio of threes.
The visitors may have put on a shooting clinic in the first half for the basketball faithful in attendance, but their size and inability to challenge the Gauchos consistently for rebounds hurt their second-half effort. Overall they were out-rebounded 40 to 26.
“They doubled up on us at the boards in the second half, including 11 offensive boards; so I really thought that the second half was a tale of second opportunities and possessions for them,” Davis Head Coach Sandy Simpson said. “They kind of wore us down, [but] we did a pretty good job in the first half on the boards.”
The game marked the first time the schools faced off in women’s basketball since 1981, but UCSB picked up right where they left off 24 years ago by dealing them another defeat.
Davis is currently in the process of being reinstated into the Big West as a newly recognized Division I school, a process that will take them another two years to complete.
“Davis is a very good team and will continue to be a very good team, but they don’t have the athletes right now to compete on a regular basis with some of the Division I teams. You can see their systems work very well, how smart their kids play, how well they play together and how tough they are,” French said. “Now [that they] can recruit kids to play Division I basketball, they’ll get a little bit more athleticism. They’re going to be a very, very difficult team to defend [against].”