By completing its road sweep with a win over Long Beach State Saturday night, the UCSB women’s basketball team has solidified a second place standing in the Big West.
The 69-55 victory is the Gauchos’ (14-10 overall, 7-2 in the Big West) fifth in a row on the road, as well as their fourth straight against conference opponents. Santa Barbara has turned its season around, winning 10 of its last 12 after a slow start to bring them into the forefront of the Big West race. Conversely, Long Beach State (5-20 overall, 2-9 Big West) has lost seven of its last eight and is sitting firmly at the bottom of the Big West standings.
The Gauchos opened with an 11-3 run and held the lead from buzzer to buzzer. UCSB was led by an outstanding performance from junior center Jenna Green, who threw down 18 points on nine-of-16 shooting. She was also excellent on the defensive end, nabbing five boards along with a pair of assists and blocks. Green has been the Gaucho’s leading scorer in 14 out of 24 outings this year.
“If you’re not careful, you get a little bit spoiled by [Green] going out and scoring so consistently,” Head Coach Mark French said. “When she gets to play one on one, she is awfully difficult to deal with. I don’t think there are many post players nationally who can deal with her.”
Green was just one of four Gaucho starters in double-digits at the end of the night. Junior guard Chisa Ononiwu stormed back from a rough zero-of-five night last week with a five-of-eight performance that netted 16 points. The explosive scorer rained in four of her six attempts from beyond the arc, and also grabbed seven boards and a game-high seven assists. Ononiwu also tied her career best with four steals.
Junior guard LaShay Fears also came back from a quiet game against UC Irvine (6-19 overall, 3-8 Big West) to knock down 14 on five-of-nine shooting. Her aggressiveness paid off as she recorded her highest scoring total since dropping 18 against the Anteaters on Jan. 6. Rounding out the double-digit scorers was junior guard Jessica Wilson, who scored all 10 of her points in the second half. Wilson nabbed a game-high eight rebounds and notched four assists.
UCSB shot well from the field and its 48.3 field goal percentage was the fourth time in the last five games that the squad shot over 45 percent. The 49ers took 12 more shots than Santa Barbara, but made six fewer resulting in 31.4 percent shooting. Long Beach made only three-of-four attempts from three-point land, and the Gauchos tossed in five-of-11 for a 45.5 percent mark.
“We have been getting really balanced scoring, and we are really moving the ball well,” French said. “I thought we played really well in the first half offensively and defensively. We got a little bit sloppy in the second, but it was a good outing.”
Santa Barbara had 17 assists on its 28 field goals. Long Beach managed to win the rebounding contest by a 44-41 margin and the 49ers blew away UCSB on the offensive boards, pulling down 18 to Santa Barbara’s six. The win is only the second of the season in which the Gauchos were out-rebounded by their opponents.