The UCSB women’s basketball team dropped another close game Saturday afternoon at home against University of the Pacific by a score of 52-48.
With the loss, the Gauchos (8-11 overall, 3-5 Big West) drop to seventh place in the conference standings. The Tigers improve to 4-4 in league play and 11-9 overall.
“I’m extremely disappointed in this loss,” Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said. “We just struggled.”
Neither team managed a lead greater than six points throughout the game. In the first half alone, the score was tied nine times and there were five lead changes. After halftime, a 6-0 run led by senior forward Kelsey Adrian seemed to give UCSB control over the game.
However, back-to-back three-pointers down the stretch from Erica McKenzie and Kendall Rodriguez tied up the game with over two minutes remaining. Two more jumpers, one from McKenzie (14 points total), completed a 10-0 run by the Tigers.
Down 46-50, Adrian fired a shot from downtown that would’ve given life to UCSB, but the shot didn’t go in and Pacific was able to clinch the victory.
“It was a wide open look and I should’ve knocked it down,” Adrian said. “When it left my hand I thought it was good, but then it wasn’t.”
UCSB looked great on paper. The Gauchos outshot Pacific 38.5 percent to 34 percent from the field and kept their turnovers low with just nine, yet struggled with both rebounding and ball control.
“You can’t expect to win at home when the opposing team gets more free throws and when you’re out-rebounded by a team that’s basically more undersized than we were,” Mitchell said.
The Gauchos were out-rebounded 39-31 and outscored 11-4 on second chance points, which made a huge difference in such a close game. The exception for UCSB was junior center Kirsten Tilleman, who grabbed 12 boards, while also contributing eight points, three assists, two steals and two blocks.
“We had one player hit the boards and that can’t happen and expect to win,” Mitchell said.
The other glaring issue was free throws. Pacific attempted 19 free throws and shot 78.9 percent from the charity stripe.
UCSB struggled from the line, shooting 53.3 percent, which is very uncharacteristic of the team that leads the Big West in free throw percentage at 74 percent.
“[Free throws were] the difference in the game,” Mitchell said. “The free throws are free and if you get up to the free throw line and you’ve worked hard enough to get there, you have to knock them down. That’s a focus thing and that’s a mental toughness part of the game.”
Every player that stepped on the court for UCSB had at least one basket, with sophomore guard Nicole Nesbit leading the way with 10 points.
“They were pressing, but we were able to break it a few times and that led to transition baskets,” Adrian said. “We were able to distribute [the ball].”
UCSB will have to rebound quickly for a nonconference matchup Tuesday on the road against USC.