If the UCSB women’s basketball team could find a way to score, it would be a very dangerous team.
Offensive inconsistency once again killed the Gauchos, who lost to USC 50-39 in a nonconference matchup. The loss was the third straight for UCSB, which drops to 8-12 overall. The Trojans improve to 11-9.
“It’s a game of 40 minutes and we did dig ourselves into a whole,” senior guard Emilie Johnson said. “We didn’t expect to just hang in there. We wanted to win.”
The Gauchos’ defense kept the score close throughout the first half, despite shooting just 19.4 percent from the floor, and went down by only six at halftime.
“Our kids know we’re getting wide open shots, so I feel it’s just a mental thing,” Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said. “You can give [USC] credit, but we’re getting the looks that we want and that we work on every day. We have to focus and knock down the open jumpers.”
After halftime, UCSB couldn’t buy a basket. It wasn’t until a free throw by Johnson seven and a half minutes in that the Gauchos scored, which allowed USC to go on an 11-0 run.
The first field goal for the Gauchos during the second half didn’t occur until 8:39 left in the game. At one point during the draught, UCSB was shooting just less than 15 percent from the field.
“To not score for 12 minutes and still have a chance to win is amazing,” Mitchell said. “And I told them, ‘I swear to God the basketball gods will open up the basket before long.’”
The Gauchos were in a big hole, down 36-18, but consecutive baskets by Johnson jumpstarted a 15-5 run to get her team back within a respectable deficit.
“It’s our job as players to hit shots,” Johnson said. “We’re playing great ‘D’ but we have to put the ball in the hoop.”
A three point play by Sweets Underwood brought the Trojans’ lead back down to single digits at 43-34, but the run by the Gauchos was just too little too late.
“We have to put the whole 40 minutes together,” Johnson said. “We can’t dig a hole and then try to dig our way out in the last five minutes.”
Sophomore forward Cassie Harberts led the Trojans with 17 points. On the other side, Johnson struggled offensively, but still managed 13 points, a team high. Nicole Nesbit, who also played a large role in the comeback, tallied 11 points on the evening.
“[Harberts is] extremely skilled,” Mitchell said. “She can not only hurt you on the low block but can also hit the 17-footer. She’s very versatile.”
The bright spot on the evening for UCSB was their defense, which held a USC team that averages 64.7 points to just 50. The Gauchos also did a solid job on the boards and were outrebounded by just two to a much taller team.
“The kids are playing their butts off on the defensive end and that should give us a chance to win,” Mitchell said. It’s the consistency. We’re putting up 8-10 turnovers and barely being outrebounded. We have to have a chance to win at some point if our shots fall.”
UCSB resumes conference play this Saturday against rival Cal Poly at home.