The UCSB women’s basketball team will look to win three games in a row for the first time this year tonight on the road against UC Riverside.
The Gauchos currently rank seventh in the Big West with a 4-6 conference record and 10-13 record overall. At 3-9 in the Big West and 5-19 overall, the Highlanders sit one spot below.
“Road games are always hard. It’s a mentality of being road warriors,” senior forward Kelsey Adrian said. “The last two home wins are really helping us to gain confidence and hopefully that will show in our next two road games.”
The last time these two teams matched up, UCSB dominated in a 20 point victory. Scoring 63 points, the Gauchos had a strong offensive performance, shooting 41 percent from the field. UCSB is 5-0 when being the first to score 60 points or higher.
“There is no way we’re overlooking anyone,” Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said. “I think with our record and some of the tough losses we’ve had this year, as a staff we [won’t] allow that to happen. I think our kids are smart enough to know we can’t do that.”
For UCR, sophomore center Natasha Hadley and freshman guard Dynese Adams combined for 30 of the team’s 43 points. Junior forward Sweets Underwood led the Gauchos with 16 points.
The most important key in that game, though, was rebounding. UCSB outrebounded UCR 45-26. The Gauchos feature two of the top six rebounders in the Big West in junior center Kirsten Tilleman and Underwood, who average 8.4 and 7.1 rebounds, respectively.
“[I’m looking to be] aggressive, score, and stay on the boards,” Underwood said. “The offensive boards were really important for us in the last game and I think that’s my role, to focus on rebounding for us.”
UCSB will see a slightly different Highlander team, which was missing two starters: junior guards Tre’Shonti Nottingham and Leah Washington. Nottingham ranks fourth in the Big West in scoring (14.8), fifth in assists (3.5), and leads the conference in steals per game (3.3).
While known for their defense, in the last two victories it looks like UCSB has finally pieced together their offense.
“We’re executing our offenses a lot better,” Mitchell said. “We run a lot of things to start the game inside-out. When our posts make their shots early, [it] tends to open things up for our guards.”
In their last game against CSU Bakersfield, both Gaucho posts, Underwood and Tilleman, tallied double-doubles. It was the second consecutive double-double for Tilleman.
In addition, senior guard Emilie Johnson has found her offensive stride, finishing in double figures in six of the last seven games.
“Every night, we’ve had different leadership and different scoring threats,” Mitchell said. “You look at Sweets and Tilleman on the scoring side of things and Emilie the last game. It can be a different player on any given night for us offensively.”
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. in Riverside.