UCSB women’s basketball will attempt to start a winning streak tonight against Cal State Fullerton, the team in the basement of the Big West standings.
The Gauchos have lost four consecutive games (3-6 Big West, 8-13 overall) and rank seventh in the Big West, but have a 38 game win streak against the Titans (2-8, 9-13 overall), the second longest amongst Division I teams.
“We can’t overlook anybody,” senior guard Emilie Johnson said. “It’s up to us to bring our best game and put 40 minutes of basketball together.”
UCSB continues its defensive dominance in conference, allowing opponents 51.5 points per game and holding teams to 36.6 percent shooting.
“Defense is a mentality,” Johnson said. “I think defense is about 90 percent effort and 10 percent skills and concept.”
The Gauchos will need to keep a sharp eye on senior guard Megan Richardson, who ranks second in scoring in the Big West at 16.9 points per contest. She also shoots 37.1 percent from the field, sixth in conference.
“We’re going to have some different looks on her,” Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said. “I think Mason did an extremely good job last time we played them and we’re also going to look at Sweets Underwood at times, so we’re going to try to give her different bodies at different points in the game.”
The Gauchos will then need to box out sophomore forward Mya Olivier, who is fourth in rebounds (7.8) and second in field goal percentage (50.4 percent).
Last time, when the teams played on Jan. 7, Richardson tallied 14 points on 6-11 shooting. Oliver also scored in double figures with 10 and grabbed eight rebounds.
“I just [want to do] what I did last time [on Richardson],” junior guard Destini Mason said. “She comes off a lot of screens, so I’ll be focusing on that more, but we just want to play our game defensively and hopefully it affects her.”
As a team, the Titans love to crash the offensive glass and they rank first in the Big West with 15.8 per game.
“Usually we run down the clock, so we have to get in rebounding position and be ready for the shot to go up,” Mason said.
In the last matchup, it was a close game, ending 39-37. Senior guard Emilie Johnson led the Gauchos with 11 points and five assists, shooting 3-4 from downtown.
“It’s going to be a hard fought game,” Johnson said. “It was a low scoring game last time, so it’s going to be a battle to the end. I know we’re battle tested in close games. We’re ready.”
The Gauchos struggled scoring, which is typical, but found success from behind the arc, shooting 45.5 percent from three.
“If the three point shot is open and it’s a good shot, there are certain players on our team where that’s their strength,” Mitchell said. “If it’s in the pattern or it’s a good shot, of course the player should take the shot.”
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the Thunderdome.