The UCSB women’s basketball team aims for its second road win of the season when it travels to Santa Clara to face the Broncos tonight at 7.
Coming off a tough game against #3 Maryland last Friday in which the Gauchos (2-3) nearly pulled off an incredible upset, but lost 75-71, Santa Barbara will be eager to get back into the win column tonight. UCSB will face Santa Clara (4-2 overall) in its third road game of the season. The last time it played away from home it earned a 79-69 victory over Loyola Marymount.
“Every game is always a challenge,” Head Coach Mark French said. “The challenge with Maryland was not to be intimidated and be beaten down by them, and the challenge for Santa Clara is not to be overconfident and have a letdown.”
Friday’s home game against Maryland (9-0 overall) was one of the most hard-fought games the Gauchos have played thus far. Trailing Maryland going into halftime, Santa Barbara eventually grabbed a 42-39 lead with 13:20 remaining. The Terrapins were able to regain the lead and pulled away, escaping the Thunderdome with a 75-71 win. In her third game back for Santa Barbara, senior center Jenna Green scored 16 points for UCSB, and senior guard Jessica Wilson chipped in 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
“After [the 66-42 loss to Arizona State on Nov. 17,] I really challenged our seniors to step up and lead us, and [Green and Wilson] have really done that,” French said.
The Gauchos were led in the game by their other star senior, guard Chisa Ononiwu, who scored 20 points and grabbed an impressive eight rebounds. For her efforts, Ononiwu was rewarded with Big West Player of the Week honors, making her the first Gaucho to receive such acclaim this season. In addition to the stellar performance against Maryland, Ononiwu also came up big in UCSB’s win over Loyola Marymount, scoring 17 points on an efficient six-of-nine shooting, which included three-of-four from beyond the arc.
“Against Maryland, [Ononiwu] not only had a great game offensively, but she really did a good job on the defensive end as well,” French said. “She is definitely deserving of the Player of the Week.”
Santa Clara is coming off a 70-55 victory over Long Beach State on Sunday. One of the keys to the game for the Gauchos will be defending the three-point shot. In their six games thus far, the Broncos have attempted 127 three-point shots compared to Santa Barbara’s 79 shots from beyond the arc. Per game, Santa Clara averages nearly four more three-point attempts than their opponent and shoots 39 percent from outside.
“[Santa Clara] is a great three-point shooting team, and they’re going to gun it from everywhere,” French said. “We need to make sure that we continue to pressure the ball and make the adjustments in transition.”