It was an emotionally draining weekend for the UCSB women’s basketball team as they lost to Portland State 69-66 in overtime on Thursday, followed by Saturday’s 64-63 loss to Idaho in double overtime.
With a chance to even their record at .500, the Gauchos are now 0-4 after the weekend home losses.
“I think we always feed off this building and our home crowd and our fans,” Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “This team has chemistry and a level of intensity that we want to bring everyday, and sometimes we need a little more. I think it was improved today, in terms of our defensive intensity, but it’d be better if we could translate that into a win.”
After falling behind by five points with only two minutes left in the second overtime, UCSB made a comeback, closing the gap to one. That set up a last second shot for junior guard Emilie Johnson. Johnson drove down the court with less than ten seconds left, shooting a three pointer as time expired. The shot narrowly missed, securing a 64-63 victory for Idaho.
“Obviously any time you lose a game this way, it’s brutal. It’s brutal for the players, and it’s brutal for the coaches,” Gottlieb said. “What I told the players in the locker room is that I’d go to work with this team any night. The thing I’m most proud of is the way we fought. You want to know you have a team that you can go to battle with anytime.”
Junior guard Kelsey Adrian led the Gauchos with 15 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore forward Sweets Underwood posted a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
“I feel as if I’m getting more aggressive as far as just going to the basket,” Underwood said. “I think that is one of the biggest parts of my game. Hopefully I can keep that consistency and stay aggressive on the boards as far as put backs.”
Thursday’s loss to Portland State proved to be just as tough for the Gauchos. UCSB had possession of the ball with six seconds left in overtime, but failed to get a shot off as they turned the ball over as time expired.
“We are really disappointed not coming out of this game with a win,” Gottlieb said. “It was a tremendous battle, you know it was a good college basketball game, and there was a lot of effort. I thought we were much better consistently across the board defensively than we were in the first two games. We’ve got to get tougher and figure out how to make those plays in crunch time.”
Underwood posted a career-high 15 points and added nine rebounds in the loss. Johnson, the team’s leading scorer entering the game, had eight points and six rebounds. Johnson had a chance to win the game with a three pointer as time expired, but the shot bounce off the rim.
“I thought it was a really good shot,” senior forward Mekia Valentine said. “It was a good judgment call on her part to take that, it was just unlucky that it didn’t fall.”
Valentine led the way for the Gauchos with 18 points and 14 rebounds, but fouled out in the crucial moments of overtime due to a new NCAA rule. The “elbow rule,” as it’s called, gives an automatic flagrant foul for any contact with an elbow to the body above the chest.
“What happened was she posted me up and she put her elbow up,” Portland State junior forward Shauneice Samms said. “It hit me in my throat and the refs called it. I got two free throws, and I missed one of them, but the call was made.”
That call proved to be costly for the Gauchos, giving the Vikings the ball and two free throws to seal the win.
“Portland State is a good team,” Gottlieb said. “This one felt a little grittier and a lot more physical. We knew they were going to give us a battle and unfortunately we couldn’t take care of business.”
The Gauchos next play on Sunday, Nov. 28 against Northern Colorado at 2 p.m. in the Thunderdome.