In basketball, a 10-point half for a team generally translates into a loss. Sunday’s showdown with the University of Arizona was no exception for the UCSB women’s squad. Despite a late rally, Santa Barbara was unable to climb out of the hole it dug for itself in the first half, falling to the Wildcats 54-47 in its poorest performance of this young season.
The Gauchos shot an abysmal 28.3 percent on the game, with just 16.7 percent in the first half. It took UCSB 19:41 to even reach double digits and trailed at half by a 23-10 margin. But shooting was not Santa Barbara’s only problem, as the Gauchos also had a miserable 1:2 assist to turnover ratio for the contest.
The loss was UCSB’s second in a row and moves their record to 1-2 on the season. The last loss was a 71-54 game against Fresno State, in which the Bulldogs set a school record in three-pointers with 16. Santa Barbara’s defense did better this time around, limiting the Wildcats to only 54 points and keeping the Gauchos in the game, but in the end UCSB’s offense couldn’t come through.
“If you’re not motivated after a road trip like this… you don’t belong on the basketball court,” first-year Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “We want to play teams that are nationally recognized. … And I don’t want to be happy to come away with two losses and play teams close.”
Things started off slow for UCSB, as Arizona went on a 10-2 run to start the game. In fact, the first frame was more than halfway over before UCSB scored another point, notching a jumper from sophomore forward Ashlee Brown with 9:32 to go to make the score 12-4.
“We came out really tentative,” Gottlieb said. “We were scared on offense and I thought our execution was really poor.”
Down by 13 at the half, UCSB played more consistently in the second frame and slowly edged its way back into the game. With 6:10 remaining, freshman point guard Emilie Johnson sunk a three-pointer to finally get the lead back to single digits, making the score 42-35. As the game wore on though, the Gauchos were forced to resort to fouling Arizona, and the Wildcats fairly consistently made their free throws to finalize their victory.
“I was much happier with our mental approach in the second half,” Gottlieb said. “We did a good job defensively, and it kept us in the game.”
Senior guard Lauren Pedersen, whose solid play had carried the Gauchos in their first two games, was unable to find any shooting rhythm in the contest. She ended up going 4-18 from the floor and a dreadful 1-11 from three-point range. Johnson was not much better at 3-12 and 2-9 for three. Despite poor shooting, Pedersen still led the team in points for the third consecutive game with 15 and was second in rebounds with seven.
One bright spot for the Gauchos was free throw shooting, as UCSB was a perfect 10-10 from the line. However, the low shooting percentage and 16 turnovers were too much to overcome.
The Gauchos’ next game will be on the road at USC on Sunday, Nov. 30. They hope to rebound from this weekend’s defeats and come away with a better result against the Trojans.
“I think we’ve learned that we need to step it up,” Gottlieb said. “We have to step out on the floor every night like we intend to win and have the execution to back it up.”