For the first time since mid-November, the UCSB women’s basketball team has won back-to-back games. With a mighty second half, the Gauchos ousted CSU Bakersfield 57-49 Saturday afternoon in a non-conference match-up.
The turning point in the game came in the second half at the 10:28 mark when senior guard Emilie Johnson took a three from the left wing, which banked in.
“[I thought to myself], ‘I’ll take it,’” Johnson said. “I knew it was off right when it left my hand, but you know what? It went in, and it’s a three.”
The banked trey sparked a 13-0 run for the Gauchos (10-13 overall, 4-6 Big West), giving UCSB a 46-42 lead, which would never be relinquished.
“We were letting them hang around for way too long,” Johnson said. “We finally made that run and put them behind and kept the momentum going in our way.”
For the second consecutive game, the offense was flowing for UCSB. Three players finished in double figures, including Johnson, who led the Gauchos offensively with 16 points, shooting 5-10 and 2-4 from downtown.
Tilleman continued to break out offensively, capturing her second straight double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. She shot 7-10 from the field.
“Honestly, I just got sick of people saying that I wasn’t a scorer,” Tilleman said. “Something has clicked and I hope to carry it on.”
The Gauchos’ other starting post, junior forward Sweets Underwood, also shot 50 percent from the field and tallied a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. And while senior forward Kelsey Adrian continued her cold shooting, she contributed five assists, tying her career high.
“With Tilleman and Sweets, the percentage that they’re shooting is amazing,” Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said. “After they knock down a couple, they’re very unselfish, so they’re going to find the shooters.”
UCSB’s defense was also up to par, holding a CSUB team (4-21 overall) that averages nearly 70 points per game to just 49.
“We were talking to each other at the point where they had 42 points and we said, ‘We’re keeping them under 50,’” Johnson said.
To open up the game, UCSB, whose players were all adorned in pink to support breast cancer awareness, fell victim to their typical routine of lagging behind early.
“[CSUB is] a different team than we’ve seen,” Tilleman said. “They’re very small, and they took advantage of that right away on offense by driving and they’d either get to the rim or they’d kick it out for a three-pointer.”
While UC Santa Barbara outshot the Roadrunners 44.4 percent to 38.7 percent in the first period, the Gauchos were outrebounded 20-15. They made up for the differential in the second half, though, and ended the game outrebounding the Roadrunners 45-39.
“That’s part of our identity that we’re going to get it done on defense and on the boards,” Johnson said. “We didn’t do that in the first half, so we got a little chip on our shoulder and got it done in the second half.”
After halftime, UCSB dug itself into a bigger hole. CSUB took advantage of sloppy play by the Gauchos and mounted their largest lead of the game at 42-33.
Luckily for the Gauchos, they are a great second-half team and sparked their run before it was too late. UCSB will look to carry their momentum into two Big West games this week against UC Irvine and UC Riverside.