Anya Choice scored a career-high 23 points and Alexis Tucker added 18 of her own Saturday night, but UCSB women’s basketball (19-11, 12-8 Big West) fell to the Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine (15-14, 13-7) in Honolulu, 68-58. As a result, the Gauchos will have the No. 5 seed in next week’s Big West Championships and face UC Davis in the quarterfinals.
HOW IT HAPPENED
UCSB got off to a hot start, putting up 18 points in the first quarter and leading for nearly the entire frame. Tucker scored 11 of those points, including hitting a pair of three-pointers, helping the Gauchos lead by as many as seven in the opening ten minutes. However, for a second straight game, UCSB watched their opponent bank in a three-pointer to end the first quarter, and their lead shrank to one. Whereas the first quarter had been 10 action-packed minutes of back-and-forth basketball, the second was a frantic but low-scoring affair. The two teams combined for just six points in as many minutes before a late Hawai’i rally put the hosts up six at halftime.
Out of halftime, both teams picked up their scoring again, with neither team leading by more than five in the third quarter. Trailing by that number midway through the period, the Gauchos capitalized on a technical to put together a six-point possession, with Alyssa Marin drawing two free throws on a layup attempt, converting both, then converting two more due to the tech. With UCSB keeping possession, Callie Cooper knocked down a jumper to give her team their first lead of the half.
The margin was three points, in favor of Hawai’i heading into the fourth quarter, and as the hosts started extending that lead, the Gauchos did everything they could to stay in the game. Early in the fourth, Alyssa Marin hit a rushed three-pointer to beat the shot clock buzzer, and she probably could have gone to the line for a four-point play.
With UCSB down eight and four minutes left on the clock, Anya Choice took over. The junior scored her team’s final 10 points, bringing her personal total into the 20s for the first time in her career. Her fourth three-pointer of the evening made it a two-possession game with under a minute to go, but that would be as close as the Gauchos got.
BY THE NUMBERS
– In her 23-point performance, Anya Choice shot 9-14 from the floor, including 4-6 from three, with four rebounds and an assist.
– Alexis Tucker scored her 18 points on 5-11 shooting (2-6 from three), with 13 of those points coming in the first half.
– Ila Lane is now within one rebound of third place on UCSB’s all-time career rebounds list; she has 876 in her career.
– Along with her 23 points, Choice also fouled out of Saturday’s game, making her the second Gaucho to record a career high and foul out of the same game this season after Callie Cooper did so in Davis on February 11.
UCSB finishes with the fifth-best winning percentage in The Big West this season, and will therefore be the No. 5 seed at next week’s Big West Championships in Henderson, Nevada. The Gauchos will face 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+
Eric Boose is assistant director of athletic communications at UCSB.