The UCSB women’s basketball team earned its second consecutive win Saturday afternoon in the Thunderdome against visiting Loyola Marymount 66-49.
With the victory, the Gauchos improve to 2-2 while the Lions drop to a winless 0-3.
“I’m proud of the effort we’ve had in back-to-back games,” Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said. “We set the tone again defensively from the tip and that’s going to win us a lot of games.”
Like in their previous match against St. Mary’s, UCSB jumped out to an early lead. With 13:36 remaining, junior forward Sweets Underwood converted a three-point play to bring the lead to 10. But this time the Gauchos never again allowed their opponents to come within the single digits.
“We’re pushing the ball early,” Mitchell said. “We’re setting the tone on the offensive end by making the other team get back and play transition defense.”
The Gauchos shot 43.8 percent from the field in the first half, compared to LMU’s 23.3 percent.
The lead continued to blossom for UCSB, and during the second half the lead reached its largest margin at 23 points.
“We went into it wanting to learn from last game,” junior center Kirsten Tilleman said. “The last game we had, we got a lead early, but we gave it up in the second half, so [this time] we really wanted to stick with it.”
The Gauchos out-rebounded the Lions and killed them in second chance points at 21-9.
“[Rebounding is] something we work every single day on because of our lack of height,” senior guard Emilie Johnson said. “We’re tired of hearing about it, so we’re going to do something about it and we’re going to rebound.”
However, turnovers are often the most impressive statistic on the stat sheet — and where the biggest improvements can be made. UCSB turned the ball over nine times in the entire contest while tallying 13 assists.
While LMU’s star, junior guard Alex Cowling, tallied 22 points on the game, 14 of them came in the second half with the lead firmly under control. Cowling was the only player in double figures for the Lions.
“[The strategy] was to let her score as many as she could and let nobody else score,” Mitchell said. “She’s a great scorer, but at the end of the day, if you only have one player in double figures, it’s going to be hard for a team to win.”
Sophomore guard Nicole Nesbit, Underwood and Johnson were all in double figures for the Gauchos. While Underwood tallied her third double-double of the season, Johnson caught fire in the second half and led the Gauchos offensively with 21 points and four assists, hitting 5-8 from behind the arc.
“We know how good we can be when we’re sharp, focused and playing as a team,” Johnson said. “We can’t win a ball game when all our players aren’t at their best. We have to come out and win together.”
UCSB finishes off its three-game home stand Wednesday against Washington.