For the first time this season, the UCSB women’s basketball team tasted the sweet taste of victory away from the friendly confines of the Thunderdome last night, when they defeated Irvine 71-60 in Irvine.
The Gauchos (7-7 overall, 3-1 in the Big West) also improved their overall record to .500 on the season while the Anteaters (2-12, 0-2 Big West) remain winless in conference play. Santa Barbara stretched its lead out to 19 points, but allowed Irvine to make it interesting and shorten the lead to nine points by committing 27 turnovers.
“I thought we played well in the first half. We wanted to get the ball in the post and we did that,” UCSB Head Coach Mark French said. “We just didn’t finish the game all that well.”
Junior guard Angie Ned led the Anteaters and all players in the game with 18 points, but it was sophomore center Kat Suderman who stole the show in the Bren Events Center. Suderman came off the bench to score a career-high 17 points and was able to pull down a career-best 13 rebounds in 22 minutes.
“I’ve kind of had my ups and downs this season,” Suderman said. “Things are finally starting to click out there and I’m feeling very good.”
Suderman was followed in the scoring column by sophomore center Jenna Green with 16 points.
“Kat’s coming on like gangbusters right now,” French said. “Our inside game is looking very good.”
The Gauchos played strongly in the first half. They shot 48.5 percent from the field and committed 11 turnovers to help them head into the locker room with a 38-23 advantage. The second half saw UCSB turn the ball over another 16 times which allowed Irvine to make a run for the win.
“I think we could have finished stronger,” Suderman said. “The way we played in the first half, we should have played that way in the second half.”
An ankle injury suffered in practice by senior guard Karena Bonds kept her off the floor and sophomore guard Jessica Wilson had to sit out most of the second half with an ankle injury of her own.
“I was pleased that we were able to hold onto the road victory. I thought that the team did well missing [Bonds] and with [Wilson] going out. We need to develop that killer instinct and close out games,” French said. “That’s a big concern for us because we lost the second half at Long Beach, too.”
The victory was the first for the Gauchos on the road; it also marks the tenth straight win over the Anteaters for the Gauchos and gave them a 43-21 advantage in the overall series between the two programs.
Watching the game from the stands was future Gaucho Jordan Franey, who signed a letter of intent to play for Santa Barbara next season.