The Gauchos are 0-2 to start the season as they have struggled offensively, but that could change tonight going up against the 2-0 Broncos.
“We’ve got to get to the free-throw line, we’ve got to get second chance points,” Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said. “There’s a million things you can do if your jumpers aren’t falling, but again, at some point we have to be more consistent from 17-foot range.”
After losing its top three scorers from last season, the biggest question mark for Santa Barbara entering the season was where its points would come from. The results have not been pretty so far, as the Gauchos have managed a measly 28.8% from the field through two games.
“There’s no concern,” Mitchell said in regards to the team’s shooting woes. “Ask me again in 26 games, and if we’re still shooting 28%, then we’ll know the outcome of the season. I still think you can shoot that bad if you play the defensive side of it.”
UCSB will need someone to step up offensively in order to free up senior center Clair Watkins in the post, who has been the focal point of opposing defenses. Watkins has averaged 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game this season, but the lack of outside shooting around her has allowed defenses to sink into the paint and force the Gauchos to keep the ball on the perimeter.
“Our guards have to be confident. They have to come off that screen and roll and knock down a mid-range jumper,” Mitchell said. “That’s the only way Clair is going to get open looks and one-on-ones inside.”
One tactic that opposing teams could see from UCSB moving forward is the full-court press. After going down 14-2 to start their game against Idaho, the Gauchos changed the game by going full-court, subsequently going on an outstanding 24-3 run to take control midway through the game.
“Maybe we need to start with a group that likes to full-court press to get the game started,” Mitchell said. “It’s nice to know that we have a team that can come in and press and have energy, and we have a team that can execute in the half court, which is ultimately what you’ll need come March. It’s a great thing having some depth on the team this year.”
Leading the Gauchos in scoring is junior guard Jasmine Ware, who has been a bright spot for the team with her energy and consistent mid-range shooting. Sophomore point guard Onome Jemerigbe has also played efficiently, leading the team in shooting at 55.6% and assists with 3.5 a game.
For Santa Clara, it has been a very different offensive story early in the year. The Broncos have averaged 78 points per game, compared to 51 for UCSB, on an excellent 46.5% from the field.
Four players are averaging double-digits for Santa Clara, led by Sidney Rielly with 13 points per game. The freshman guard also leads her team shooting 40% from downtown.
Tip-off against the Broncos is set for 7:00 p.m. tonight at the Thunderdome.
A version of this article appeared on page 9 of November 20, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.