Most teams prefer to play at home — not the UCSB women’s basketball team.
The Gauchos’ home struggles continued Saturday as they dropped a critical game to Cal Poly 65-56. Santa Barbara is now 4-7 when playing at the Thunderdome.
“This one has me at a loss of words,” Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said. “We don’t have the answer just yet, but we will have the answer.”
The loss not only snapped a three-game winning streak for UCSB, but was the fourth straight defeat to the Mustangs and the second loss this season. As a result, the Gauchos drop to 11-13 overall and 7-5 in the Big West, falling into fourth place in the conference standings. Cal Poly, on the other hand, improves to 14-9 overall and 8-4 in league.
“At this point, I’m going to be creative in trying to get these guys to play free, play the basketball we’re capable of and play the way we play on the road,” Mitchell said. “Maybe I can get the administration to okay us to stay in a hotel around the corner, so that way we feel like we’re on the road.”
In this Blue-Green Rivalry game, great offense beat solid defense. Santa Barbara, which prides itself at keeping its opponents much below their scoring average, was unable to stop the Mustangs’ potent offense as their 65 points are just shy of their 68.4 point-per-game average.
UCSB is currently 1-8 when its opponent breaks the 60-point mark. Overall, the Gauchos were outshot by the Mustangs 45.3 percent to 35.1 percent.
“A stat that always lets me know that we’re going to be in trouble is when we take more field goals than the opponent, especially a team like Poly,” Mitchell said. “That’s their game to get up and down, so we can’t expect to play their style and come out with a win.”
For the second-straight game, UCSB couldn’t contain 6’5’’ Molly Schlemer. The junior center led all players with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
From the first tip, Cal Poly took control. Tied at two, a three by sophomore guard Ariana Elegado sparked a 16-0 run for the Mustangs. Aided by nine first-half turnovers from UCSB, the lead grew to its largest margin of 17 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
UCSB narrowed the lead to eight with 16 minutes to go, but three consecutive treys by Cal Poly were enough to keep the Gauchos at bay. The 9-0 run was spurred by Elegado and senior guard Kayla Griffin, both of whom finished in double figures with 12 and 15 points, respectively.
On the game, Cal Poly was 8-17 on threes for an incredible 47.1 percent.
“We just guarded the No. 1 three-point shooting team in our conference in Pacific, so there really should be no excuse,” Mitchell said.
Nevertheless, the Gauchos responded, going on a 14-4 run to narrow the lead to seven with 6:07 remaining. The momentum was in UCSB’s favor, but a three by Elegado brought the lead back to 10 and would be too much for Santa Barbara to overcome.
Senior forward Sweets Underwood paced UCSB offensively, tallying her 10th double-double of the season with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
UCSB continues its three-game homestand Thursday.