Junior guard Anya Choice set a career-high in points with 23 as the Gauchos took on the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors. Unfortunately, UC Santa Barbara’s women’s basketball fell to Hawai’i 68-58, wrapping up the regular season. The Gauchos will have the No. 5 seed in the Big West Tournament and face UC Davis in their first matchup. 

Maddy Fangio

The Gauchos started hot as senior guard Alexis Tucker made a mid-range jump shot. The Gauchos exchanged buckets with the Rainbow Warriors throughout the first quarter. 

The Gauchos scored 18 points in the first, giving them a 1-point lead going into the second quarter with a score of 18-17. UC Santa Barbara lost the lead at the start of the second quarter. 

Choice retook the lead after she knocked down a three to make the score 23-21 in favor of the Gauchos. Shortly after, Hawai’i hit a three of their own, taking the 23-24 advantage for the Rainbow Warriors. 

Hawai’i extended their lead to 6 points before going into the locker room for halftime. At the half, the Gauchos found themselves behind 23-29. 

Coming out of the locker room, the Gauchos looked to cut the lead and try to regain the lead again. In the first five minutes of the third quarter, the Gauchos cut the lead down to 1 point after junior guard Alyssa Marin hit all her free throws after a technical foul was awarded, making it 34-35 Hawai’i.

With two minutes left in the third, Choice knocked down a three to tie it at 42-42. Hawai’i extended their lead to end the third quarter 43-46.

In the fourth quarter, Hawai’i extended their lead to as much as 9 points with two minutes left in the game. With time winding down, the deficit was too big for the Gauchos, as they lost 68-58, dropping their final conference game of the season.

Choice scored 23 points off 9-14 from the floor while going 4-6 from three, with 4 rebounds and 1 assist.

Tucker also hit double digits, scoring 18 points from 5-11 shooting, including 2-6 from three with 7 rebounds and 2 assists. 

Marin and senior center Ila Lane combined for 14 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists. 

As the regular season has concluded, UC Santa Barbara finished with the fifth-best winning percentage in the Big West this season. The Gauchos will therefore be the No. 5 seed at next week’s Big West Championships in Henderson, Nevada. The Gauchos are set to play against the No. 4 seed UC Davis in the quarterfinal round on Wednesday, March 8 at 2:30 p.m. pacific time. The game will be live on ESPN+.