A slow start doomed the UCSB women’s basketball team on Saturday night in an 81-48 loss at UC Riverside. The Highlanders used a 21-point scoring streak to take a 27-2 lead while the Gauchos were never able to recover.

[media-credit name=”Daily Nexus File Photo” align=”alignleft” width=”166″][/media-credit]With the loss, the Gauchos’ record now stands at 9-8 (3-2 Big West) while Riverside improves to 9-7 (3-1 Big West). Sophomore guard Stefanie Corgel led UCSB with a career-high 12 points and was one of three Gauchos to score in double figures.

“When you get your tail kicked this badly, if you can’t take something away, we are doing something wrong,” Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “We need to understand what it takes to win and to know every Big West game is important. It’s troubling and it’s a lesson, but we will get better from it, there is no doubt about that.”

The Gauchos started ice-cold, going scoreless for almost 10 minutes at one point in the first half. UCSB hit a season low 13 shots in the game, with the starters scoring only seven points. Led by Corgel, the bench scored a season-high 41 points.

A pair of guards led the attack for the Highlanders, as Tre’Shonti Nottingham led all scorers with 22 points and Alyssa Morris added 20. Riverside connected on over 47 percent of their shots as four players scored in double figures.

“First off, we need to work on handling pressure and limiting turnovers,” Gottlieb said. “Secondly, we need to work on being sharp and being able to play on the second game of the weekend.”

UCSB committed 24 turnovers in the game, succumbing to the Highlander’s pressure. Riverside scored 33 points off the forced turnovers, limiting the Gauchos with little opportunity to score. The Gauchos attempted a season low 38 shots.

Sophomore forward Sweets Underwood narrowly missed a double-double for the Gauchos, scoring 11 points while pulling down nine boards. Underwood is third in the Big West in rebounding with just under eight per game. Freshman guard Melissa Zornig scored in double figures for the second consecutive game with 10 points.

The starting five for the Gauchos were largely missing, with three starters going scoreless. Senior forward Mekia Valentine was limited to just five points and seven rebounds, both well below her season averages.

The only other starter to score was senior forward Margaret Johnson, who scored two points in her first contest back after missing the previous two with an injury. Junior guard Emilie Johnson, the team’s leading scorer, went scoreless, missing all three of her shots in only eight minutes of play.

For the first time in seven games, UCSB was out-rebounded by their opponent. The Highlanders pulled down 32 boards, two more than the Gauchos.

“I think we were sloppy coming out of gate,” Gottlieb said. “When you are not sharp against a physical team like this they will make you pay. Neither the offense nor defense put together anything to make a stand. It was one thing on top of another that went wrong tonight.”

UCSB will try to rebound when they host Cal State Fullerton on Saturday. Fullerton is 6-12 (2-4 Big West) and is coming off a 75-67 victory over Northridge.

Tip-off against Fullerton is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Thunderdome.