Tuesday night’s game was marred by a multitude of missed shots for both the UCSB women’s basketball team and Santa Clara. The Gauchos shot 13-47 from the field while Santa Clara was 18-51 shooting the ball. While both teams struggled to score, the Broncos’ outscoring of UCSB 19-8 in the fourth quarter sealed their 48-37 win.
After 21 points last Tuesday and a career-high 27 points on Sunday, sophomore Makala Roper was added to the Gauchos’ starting lineup. In her first start of the season, Roper recorded her second-worst field goal percentage in a game at 10 percent. She ended the game 1-10 shooting, 1-6 from behind the perimeter and made just one of four free throw attempts.
“I don’t think she was shot-ready today,” Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “A good shooter has to have a short-term memory. The shooters have to be ready, and she [Roper] was standing straight up, not ready.”
UCSB’s loss in its return home makes the Gauchos 1-7 overall and increased their losing streak to five consecutive games. After beginning its season 0-2, Santa Clara is now 5-2 after earning its fifth-straight victory.
Despite its shots not falling, Santa Barbara did manage to stay in the game in the first quarter, making 2-5 three-point attempts. Scoring one of the team’s field goals was freshman forward Kali Jones with a layup. Yet she would be sent to the bench due to picking up two early fouls and did not play for the rest of the first half.
A UCSB turnover in the last 20 seconds of the first quarter resulted in a buzzer layup by sophomore guard Taylor Berry to give the Broncos an 11-9 lead to close the quarter. They capitalized on the quick lead, turning the score into a 6-0 run to open the second quarter.
It wasn’t until the 5:50 mark that UCSB earned its first field goal of the quarter from a layup by sophomore forward Chaya Durr. Limiting UCSB’s attempt to feed the paint was the Broncos’ 2-3 zone. For the first time this season, the Gauchos were outscored in the paint 14-28.
Leading the Broncos’ frontcourt was sophomore forward Morgan McGwire as she led Santa Clara with 13 points on 6-10 shooting and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
Santa Clara also used a 2-2-1 full court press throughout the game in combination with its zone. UCSB was unable to overcome the pressures of the defensive traps and double teams of Santa Clara’s on-ball defense, turning the ball over 17 times in the first half and ending with a total of 23 turnovers.
“It [2-2-1 zone] was aggressive, it came to a double right away,” Henrickson said. “We have to have cutters coming to the ball. Everybody has to be more aggressive, not just the ballhander.”
Santa Clara turned the ball over a total of 29 times, but the Gauchos were unable to benefit from the Broncos’ mistakes, scoring just 13 points off turnovers.
“You have to score,” Henrickson said. “We missed opportunities at the rim. You have to be able to knock down free throws, the free throw line has been an issue for us all year.”
Santa Barbara ended its night with a 33.3 free throw percentage, making 5-15 attempts.
Despite their turnovers, the Broncos managed to increase their lead to a margin of eight at 19-11 with nearly two minutes remaining in the first half. However, a strong first half performance by freshman shooting guard Coco Miller kept the Gauchos’ deficit from getting out of hand.
After two quarters, Miller was 3-4 shooting the ball in which all of her field goal makes and attempts were from long range. Her two three-pointers as the second quarter ended helped trim the Broncos’ lead to 17-21 at halftime. Adding to Miller’s nine points was a free throw make to give her a game-high 10 points in the first half. She finished the game with a game-high 19 points, finishing 5-10 from three-point distance.
Before recording her third personal foul with 2:54 on the clock in the third quarter, Jones’ return uplifted UCSB’s presence in the paint. Santa Barbara scored eight of its 11 points down low but could not stop the Broncos’ response as they maintained a 27-23 lead.
Pulling the Gauchos within a one-point deficit was Miller’s basket beyond the arc, cutting Santa Clara’s lead to 26-27. The Broncos entered the fourth quarter with a 30-28 lead.
Santa Clara trailed in the beginning of the first quarter, but never lost its advantage once it took a 5-3 lead in Tuesday’s contest. A 13-3 scoring run gave the Broncos their largest lead of 12 at 43-31 with 3:45 remaining in the game.
Scoring UCSB’s last six points was Miller with a three-pointer and three makes at the free throw line. Still, her lone performance was not enough to surpass the Broncos’ defense, which held the Gauchos scoreless for the last two minutes of regulation to earn the 48-37 victory.
UCSB was outrebounded 31-45 on Tuesday night, leading to its being outscored in second chance points 7-24.
UCSB will remain in Santa Barbara for another home game versus Loyola Marymount this Friday, Dec. 4 at 7:00 p.m. The Lions are 2-5 overall and are winless on the road with a 0-3 record in away games.
A version of this article appeared on page 14 of December 3, 2015’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.