Prior to the UCSB women’s basketball team’s game at UC Irvine, Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said her team would double team Camille Buckley on defense, calling her a big-time athlete who will have the opportunity to play at the next level.
Despite the defensive focus on Buckley, the Gauchos could find no answer for the senior forward.
Buckley finished the night with a game-high 27 points and 15 rebounds. She shot 7-12 from the field, including 13-15 from the free throw line, to give Irvine the 77-60 win.
“We knew that we were going to have keep her out of the paint and full front her and have good help-side,” senior guard Nicole Nesbit said. “Playing defense is what we practiced all week leading up to this game. Give her credit, she’s a good player, but we allowed her to get things too easy.”
The loss marks the first loss to Irvine during the Carlene Mitchell rein as Santa Barbara remains winless on the road in Big West play.
Following Buckley’s lead, the Anteaters outrebounded the Gauchos 43-28. They also shot 26-33 from the free throw line compared to 6-10 for UCSB.
“It’s obvious there wasn’t an attack mentality in just the discrepancy with the free throws,” Mitchell said. “You’re not going to win on the road no matter who you’re playing if that’s the amount of times we’re sending them to the free throw line. And a lot of those free throws stem from the rebounding side of it. So, rebounding and free throws – that’s the difference in the game.”
Similar to all season long, Santa Barbara failed to play a consistent game. The first half saw a back and forth game between UCSB and UCI until the Anteaters finished the first half on a 6-0 run to take a 38-30 halftime lead. Buckley contributed four of those six points.
Then to open the second half, the Gauchos continued to fall apart. UCSB was unable to find the bottom of the net until 15:56 into the second half, allowing a 10-0 run by the Anteaters. The lead would be too large to overcome as UCSB could only play Irvine even the rest of the game.
“They took it right at us and we had a turnover on the offensive end the very first possession that led to a layup on that end. It was just back to back,” Mitchell said. “It’s frustrating and our kids didn’t fight through it. You’d like them to be able to make one mistake and not let it carry over to the opposite end of the floor. It did two or three times.”
With the victory, Irvine remains a perfect 5-0 at home. They improve to 10-10 overall and 3-3 in the Big West. Santa Barbara, on the other hand, drops to 6-13 overall and 1-5 in conference.
“You have to be positive completely. As a team, we have to stay together and know what our strengths are,” Nesbit said. “We have to treat every game like we’re going in to win every time. It’s about being consistent and putting two halves together.”
The Gauchos will need to rebound quickly as they make the long road trip north to UC Davis Saturday. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.
This article is an online exclusive and did not appear in the print edition of the Daily Nexus.