The rout was on at the Thunderdome last night as the UCSB women’s basketball team dominated Utah Valley State 86-58.
The Gauchos (8-8 overall, 3-1 in the Big West) out-hustled and out-muscled the Wolverines (11-7) en route to its fourth straight win and largest margin of victory of the season. With the win, UCSB gets back to .500 for the season and with its confidence level soaring goes on the road to face UC Davis on Saturday.
“I was most pleased with our energy,” Head Coach Mark French said. “I thought we played pretty hard for most of the game.”
Santa Barbara’s energy level was high from the opening tip-off, as a layup by sophomore guard Whitney Warren with 18:40 remaining capped an 8-0 run to start the game. The Wolverines tied the game at the 14:49 mark and again with 8:50 remaining at 23-23, but after that the Gauchos’ stifling defense forced the Wolverines into an offensive standstill, in which they did score again until the 1:21 mark. UCSB led 39-25 at halftime in large part due to its 29-17 rebounding advantage, which was a major factor in its 12-2 edge in second-chance points.
“[In the second half,] we wanted to see if we could play the last 20 minutes really, really hard,” French said. “I thought they really delivered and it was a pretty consistent effort all throughout.”
UCSB continued to dominate in the second half, taking its biggest lead of the game at 31 points with 10:12 to go, and eventually got the 28-point win, 86-58. Junior guard Jessica Wilson had a stellar second half and finished the game with an impressive stat line and was just three steals away from a triple-double with 18 points on 6-11 shooting, 10 rebounds and seven steals. Also coming up big for the Gauchos was junior guard Chisa Ononiwu, who is beginning to find her niche on the team as an offensive-rebounding specialist.
“[Ononiwu] is like an animal out there,” sophomore guard LaShay Fears said. “I know that if a shot goes up, she is going to be there to get the offensive board. She also helps us out in transition a lot because she’s always pushing it.”
The Gauchos will return to action Saturday when they travel to Davis for a road match with the Aggies (6-9). Following a three-game win streak, the Aggies have lost two of their last three games, with its most recent loss coming at the hands of South Dakota State 78-61. For Santa Barbara, maintaining the same level of confidence that has propelled them to this recent steak will be key.
“We all have faith in each other and everybody knows their role,” Ononiwu said. “We all know everybody’s talents and we trust in that.”