The UCSB women’s basketball team picked up their first win in conference play with a thrilling victory over Long Beach State, putting them at an overall record of 4-12 (1-2 in conference play).
Both teams came out firing in the first quarter with sophomore point guard Danae Miller leading the way for the ‘Chos with a quick five points. Miller has been playing with a lot of confidence as late which has led to her impacting both ends of the floor.
Sophomore forward Naomi Hunt came out on fire for the 49ers as she made two three-pointers to give her six points. One of Long Beach State’s strength is their ability to make three pointers, which was on full display to start the game.
The 49ers would go into the second quarter with a one point lead but UCSB would turn the tables as they outscored LBSU by three points, giving them a two-point lead going into halftime. Redshirt junior Coco Miller started to find her rhythm as she swished a couple mid-range jumpers which gave the Gauchos some momentum.
Miller came into this game red hot as she had a career high scoring performance with 33 points, with 18 of those points coming from behind the three-point line. Although it was a slow start, she would make a huge impact in the second half.
Neither team could create separation from the other in the third period with both teams seemingly scoring at will. Junior center Natalie Bruening dominated in the post as she used her size to convert easy layups. For LBSU, junior forward Cydnee Kinslow had an outstanding third quarter with two threes as well as a couple of steals.
Bruening has started to find her confidence as of late on the offensive end of the floor as she is attacking the basket aggressively, leading to an increase in free throw attempts. Going forward, it will be crucial that she sustains this level of play because it will force defenses to double her in the paint.
The Gauchos were finally able to gain some breathing room as they outscored the 49ers by six points in the final eight minutes to come away with the victory. Danae Miller not only hit a clutch mid-range floater with the shot clock about to expire but iced the game from the free throw line as well.
One of the keys behind their victory was their ability to hold the 49ers to 35 percent shooting from the field, which can be attributed to the persistent ball pressure. All five players on the court were communicating on the floor as well which kept LBSU from finding their rhythm offensively.
Another welcoming sight for UCSB was the balanced scoring between Danae Miller, Coco Miller and Bruening who combined for 46 of the team’s total 60 points. This is extremely encouraging for a team that has struggled to find a second scorer to emerge behind Coco Miller.
Although sophomore guard Bri Anugwom did not make an impact scoring the ball, her contributions on the other end of the floor cannot be overlooked as she grabbed a career high fourteen rebounds in the contest.
In order for the Gauchos to build upon this game, they will need to continue to bring maximum defensive effort as they still build chemistry on the offensive end. Moreover, they will need to continue to play team basketball and avoid the ball sticking in one place.
UCSB will be back in action next week as it faces Cal State Fullerton at home on Thursday Jan. 24 in the Thunderdome at 7 p.m.