The UCSB women’s basketball team needed only eight players to keep the Aggies down in its 70-55 win over UC Davis on Sunday afternoon in the Thunderdome.
Even though they were missing three key players due to injury, the Gauchos dominated Davis through all 40 minutes of play. With senior guard Karena Bonds and sophomore guard Jessica Wilson out with ankle injuries and senior forward Autumn Nichols recovering from being hit by a car, Head Coach Mark French turned to his reserves to get the job done.
“There was just too much [junior guard] Erin O’Bryan tonight,” Davis Head Coach Sandy Simpson said. “We were right in her face and she was knocking them down, you’ve got to give her credit.”
O’Bryan drained seven of her 12 three-point attempts and added a layup to record a career high 23 points, leading all scorers in the game. From the first shot she took – which got pinned between the rim and backboard – to her last, which gave the Gauchos their largest lead of the night at 19, O’Bryan lived from behind the arc, shooting 12 of her 16 shots from downtown.
“I was very much enjoying myself out there,” O’Bryan said.
The game was just the second start of the season for O’Bryan whose veteran leadership is usually a valuable tool coming off of the bench. Also receiving starts in place of the injured players was sophomore center Kat Suderman and freshman guard Whitney Warren.
“It was a good team game,” French said. “We should have a lot more confidence from our role players on the team after today.”
Sophomore forward/center Jenna Green who leads the Gauchos in scoring with 14.7 points per game made the first point of the game with a free throw 1:20 seconds into the contest, but never took another shot until the second half.
Two, three and sometimes four Aggie defenders often greeted Green and Suderman whenever they were fed the ball down in the post. Although they were under heavy defensive pressure, they managed to contribute in other ways – Green pulled down 11 boards and had one block while Suderman blocked two shots and grabbed nine rebounds.
“I thought it was great that Jenna Green didn’t get frustrated with all the double teams, triple teams, quadruple teams,” French said. “She played a real solid defensive game, grabbed a whole bunch of boards. She was a real presence down there and I’m sure the Davis players thought about her when they thought about driving the lane.”
The Aggies never led in the contest. They looked like they might make a solid run after starting the second half down 36-22 and shrinking Santa Barbara’s lead to nine points at 44-35, but a bucket from O’Bryan ended the 11-2 run that Davis had mounted with 13:22 left in the game. The first half for Davis was characterized by missed opportunity after missed opportunity. The Aggies shot 18.8 percent in the half, connecting on just six of 32 shots.
“They just shot miserably tonight,” French said. “I thought we played pretty good defense but they missed a lot of open shots.”