The UCSB women’s basketball team has proved itself an offensive force this year, but the Gauchos still couldn’t keep up with the potent offense of St. Mary’s as they fell 89-79 yesterday in their first road game of the season.

Although Santa Barbara scored the second most points during the Carlene Mitchell era with 79, the 89 points the Gauchos gave up was the most since Mitchell’s arrival to UCSB. The previous highest point total by an opponent was 81 points against Baylor in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

“We continued to show our ability to put up points, but I feel that in order for us to win big games and compete with elite level competition, we have to clean up some things on the defensive end of things,” Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said.

Despite playing without their biggest star in senior guard Jackie Nared, who averages 23.7 points, the Gaels still finished 3.5 points above their season average of 85.5 points per game.

St. Mary’s shot an incredible 63.3 percent from the field, hurting UCSB from inside and on the outside. The Gaels were 6-8 from behind the arc and 21-28 from the free throw line.

“I’ve never seen a team shoot 63 percent from the field, so that was rough,” senior guard Destini Mason said. “I don’t think we were as sharp as we couldn’t been defensively.”

The options were plentiful for St. Mary’s on the offensive end as the team ended the night with four players in double figures. Leading the offense were senior guard Kate Gaze and sophomore guard Lauren Nicholson, who on the season only average 11.7 and 10.7 points per game, respectively. However, with Nared on the bench, the guards stepped up, tallying 26 points apiece. Danielle Mauldin also added a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds.

“They have balanced scoring, so there’s not just one player that can get it done,” Mitchell said. “You have to give them credit for finding the mismatches and taking advantage of it.”

The Gauchos drop to 1-2 overall while the Gaels stay perfect on the year, improving to 4-0.

St. Mary’s powerful offense was evident straight from the tip. Nicolson knocked down consecutive threes and St. Mary’s jumped out to a quick eight point, which was kept rest of half.

“It was a frustrating game,” senior guard Melissa Zornig said. “We let them get the shots they wanted and they knocked a lot of shots down. We just didn’t get it done defensively.”

To start the final period, Santa Barbara’s seniors put the team on their backs, scoring UCSB’s first 11 first points of the half to cut St. Mary’s lead to just one point.

All three seniors for the Gauchos finished in double-figures. Zornig scored 19 points, four steals and a career-high nine assists while Mason also had a career-high setting night. She finished with a personal best 18 points and seven rebounds, breaking the career-high she already broke earlier this season when she scored 16 against Occidental. Finally, consistent as always, senior guard Nicole Nesbit tallied 17 points.

“We know the dynamic of the team and we know we have to step it up to another level,” Mason said. “I’m glad Mel got in her rhythm and started knocking down some stuff. We know we have to be on our game because everyone’s following our lead.”

But St. Mary’s offense was relentless. An 8-0 run a little over halfway through the half gave the Gaels an 11 point cushion, which would be enough to keep the Gauchos at bay the rest of the game.

Santa Barbara will continue its road trip Saturday at Santa Clara. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m.



This article is an online exclusive and did not appear in the print edition of the Daily Nexus.

Photo by Margarita Baliyan of the Daily Nexus.