The UC Santa Barbara women’s basketball team headed to the Hawaiʻian islands to face off against the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Rainbow Wahine on Saturday, Feb 17. The Gaucho’s late push wasn’t enough, as the Gauchos lost 68-64.


The Gauchos started off with an early 8-2 lead. However, Hawaiʻi responded with 11 unanswered points to take control at 13-8. The Gauchos did not let the lead get away from them as they mounted a comeback, resulting in a tied score of 13 apiece by the end of the quarter. Senior forward Alexis Whitfield significantly contributed to the Gauchos’ offense, as she contributed 8 of their 13 points.

A back-and-forth battle marked the second quarter until the Gauchos went on a big offensive run, going 8-0. With the offensive run, the Gauchos took a 26-18 lead with 4 minutes left of the second quarter. Hawaiʻi did cut down the lead, but the Gauchos protected the lead as much as they could, as at the end of two quarters, the Gauchos were up 32-27. 

The third quarter saw the momentum shift in favor of the Wahine. Hawaiʻi went on their second 11-0 run of the game. However, after a couple of made shots from senior guard Anya Choice, the Gauchos found themselves only down by 2 points.  Despite a brief exchange of misses, the Gauchos regained the lead with another layup by Choice. However, Hawaiʻi fought back to even the score and eventually claimed a one-point advantage heading into the final quarter with a score of 48-47.

In the final quarter, Hawaiʻi went on another offensive surge. They built an 11-point cushion, prompting the Gauchos to call a timeout and slow down Hawaiʻi’s offensive success. A pair of successive 3-pointers by Choice and sophomore guard Jessica Grant narrowed the gap to a two-possession game, followed by a pull-up jumper by freshman forward Zoe Borter, cutting it to three with 3 minutes remaining. 

Despite their efforts, the Gauchos couldn’t cut the deficit enough to knock down the tying basket or take the lead. Grant’s 3-pointer reduced the deficit to 2 points with under 30 seconds left, but 2 free throws after a Gaucho foul extended the Wahine’s lead to 4 points. In the dying moments, the Gauchos attempted 2 3-pointers but were unsuccessful in finding the basket.

Whitfield had a heck of a game as she recorded her fifth 20+ point 10+ rebound game of the season after scoring 21 points and grabbing 17 rebounds.

UCSB will return home and host the UC Irvine Anteaters on Thursday, Feb. 22. Tip-off is set to 7 p.m. at the Thunderdome.

A version of this article appeared on p. 8 of the Feb. 22, 2024, print edition of the Daily Nexus.