Who says winning basketball has to be pretty basketball? The UCSB women’s team got it done Thursday and Saturday in sloppy, low-scoring affairs, coming away with two key conference wins.

The Gauchos first bested Cal State Fullerton in what would later seem like a high-scoring 57-46 contest. Senior center Jenna Green featured with a double-double, earning 12 points and 10 rebounds to go with her five assists and five blocks. In addition, Green’s stellar defense also stopped the Titans’ star player Toni Thomas in her tracks. Thomas, a senior forward and first-team Big West selection was held to 4-19 shooting and only six rebounds.

The UCSB defense as a whole ranks fifth in the country in field goal percentage, and proved why Thursday night. In fact, the Gauchos were at their best defensively, allowing only 27.3 percent of Fullerton’s shots to fall.

“What an exciting thing to say we’re fifth in the country, and we could be better,” Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. She added: “We have a responsibility as that type of defensive team right now, to guard somebody… to play good team defense.”

Senior guard Lauren Pedersen led all Santa Barbara scorers with 15 points, including a 6-6 mark from the free throw line, while junior forward Jordan Franey added 10 points and nine rebounds. However, the main story at the end of the game was that of injuries.

Late in the game, both Green and senior point guard Sha’Rae Gibbons went down with various maladies — Green with a shoulder problem and Gibbons with a tweaked knee — and neither would be ready to play Saturday afternoon.

Playing without its senior point guard and center, one might have excused UCSB for losing its first conference game. UC Irvine was not so fortunate. After a grind-it-out game with 23 turnovers and minimal offense, the Anteaters were unable to muster even 40 points against the Gauchos.

And while Santa Barbara hardly played its best offensive game, an excellent performance from the charity stripe was more than enough to beat UCI, as the final score read 51-38. UCSB hit a whopping 20 free throw shots out of 25 attempts, including another perfect showing from Pedersen at 7-7. Those seven shots also took the senior to 29 consecutive makes — setting a school record in the process.

Further, Pedersen seemed to excel in the absence of Green and Gibbons, dominating the box score with 16 points, six assists, six steals and five rebounds. But she was not alone, as senior guard Whitney Warren added 12 points — with eight coming at the free throw line.

Despite the two consecutive low-scoring performances, Gottlieb is not overly concerned for her Gauchos.

“Obviously, as a coach, you want it to be smoother from the get-go,” she said. “We’re better offensively than what we’re showing, but we’ll get there.”

If the defense keeps holding opponents to such low point production, that could spell trouble for the rest of the Big West. As it stands, UCSB is 15-7 overall and 10-0 in conference, but has a tough stretch ahead. Five of its last seven are on the road, including bouts against its top conference competitors in their home gyms. Next up is Cal Poly on the road next Saturday, with tip-off set for 4 p.m.