An inconsistent offensive performance ultimately doomed the UCSB women’s basketball team on Saturday, as the team fell to Hawai’i 63-51 at the Thunderdome.
For the Gauchos, freshman forward-center Ila Lane led the way once again with 20 points and an eye-popping 15 rebounds, while senior guard Coco Miller chipped in 19 points on an efficient 7-15 shooting.
From the get-go, it seemed like the Gauchos (9-13, 4-5) had the firepower to knock off the second-place Rainbow Wahine (13-10, 7-3). UCSB came storming out of the gate, with freshman Lane scoring 7 straight points to start the game. With Hawai’i attempting an aggressive full-court press in the first quarter, the ‘Chos were able to take advantage of the available space on the halfcourt — especially Miller, who drilled three 3’s in the first quarter. In total, Santa Barbara scored 20 points in the first quarter on 44% shooting from the floor — one of the team’s best quarters in recent memory.
In the second quarter, however, the wheels began to fall off for the Gauchos. In one of their poorest single-quarter performances of the season, the ‘Chos only scored 3 points in the entire quarter, with the team going 1-10 from the floor. The team also struggled to break the press during this quarter, turning the ball over 5 times.
“Our offense was too stagnant today,” Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “We gotta move our guy and move the ball to move the defense. We got caught standing and watching too much, and we need to be more aggressive.”
For much of the night, UCSB’s defense kept them competitive against a very solid Hawai’i team. In particular, Miller excelled on the defensive end, grabbing 2 steals in the second quarter and 6 in the entire game. Despite UCSB’s lack of offense in the second quarter, the team still managed to hold Hawai’i to 10 points in the quarter; somehow, Santa Barbara only trailed by 3 at the half, 23-26.
But in the second half, senior Julissa Tago and junior Lauren Rewers demonstrated why Hawai’i has dominated opponents all season in the Big West.
Tago — who leads the team with 14.1 points per game — showed off her scoring prowess on Saturday, finishing the game with 21 points on 8-11 shooting from the floor. In the second half in particular, Tago burned UCSB, dropping a blistering 15 points. Because the ‘Chos were forced to respect Tago’s midrange jumper, she was able to get to the bucket at will in the second half, resulting in easy layup after easy layup.
Coming off the bench, Rewers put in one of her finest performances of the season on Saturday, finishing with 16 points on the night — well above her 6.4 season average. Perhaps more importantly, Rewers ability to hit 3’s stretched UCSB’s defense, which initially allowed Rewers to take wide-open shots behind the arc. In that fourth quarter, Rewers hit back-to-back 3’s when UCSB had cut their deficit to 5 points, ensuring that the Rainbow Wahine kept a comfortable lead.
While UCSB held Hawai’i to 63 points on the night, the Gauchos’ offense continued to struggle in the second half. For the game, the Gauchos merely shot 34.5% from the floor while also turning the ball over 16 times.
With the victory, Hawai’i remains in second place in the conference, while Santa Barbara falls to sixth place.
Now, the Gauchos must quickly rebound as they take on two opponents ahead of them in the standings: Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge. UCSB will travel to Long Beach to take on the 49ers on Thursday before going down to Northridge and taking on the Matadors on Saturday.