Two weeks after a double-header sweep at Cal State Fullerton, the UCSB women’s basketball team may be playing only one other game this month.
The Gauchos’ Friday contest at UC San Diego has been postponed to allow the Tritons three full days of practice following their COVID-19 quarantine. The two teams are still set to play on Saturday at 3 p.m. in San Diego.
“We are hoping to reschedule the Friday game,” UCSB coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “It’s a situation we’re monitoring. But looking at the (COVID) numbers right now, just getting a chance to play is a win.”
The Gauchos (2-6, 2-2 Big West Conference) are coming off their league bye week and haven’t played since Jan. 2. Cal State Northridge, the opponent they were originally scheduled to play next week, opted out of this season because of the coronavirus.
UCSB’s Jan. 29 and 30 games at UC Davis may also be canceled if Yolo County Public Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson doesn’t lift her December edict forbidding professional and collegiate teams from competing or practicing indoors.
“The good news is that we’ve been getting better in practice,” Henrickson said.
Freshmen guards Anya Choice and Alyssa Marin are both coming into their own, she said.
“That’s the fun part,” Henrickson said. “The young kids are starting to put the ball on the floor and see the floor better.
“The game has slowed down for Anya. She’s playing with a lot more confidence and aggression, taking the ball to the rim.
“And Alyssa has been great from the three-point line (42.3%) and even the free-throw line. She leads us in free throws (25-for-32, 78.1%). She’s also become really aggressive in attacking the basket.”
UCSB’s lineup has been reduced to just eight players, with masked assistant coaches filling out the scout team during practice. Two Gauchos, 6-4 senior Natalia Bruening and 6-foot junior transfer Megan Anderson, are on the injured list. Five others including All-America center Ila Lane opted out of this season because of the pandemic.
“It is what it is, and it has to be enough,” Henrickson said. “Everybody on the floor is getting a chance to get better and everybody gets tons of reps in practice. That’s part of it.
“We’ve changed our format of practices and shooting a lot more because we can’t just be going up and down with the numbers we’ve got. That’s actually been helpful. It’s a good thing to reflect back upon and not let go of that.”
UCSB is shooting a healthy 37.5% from the three-point line. Leading scorer Doris Jones (15.1 points per game), a 5-9 senior transfer, is shooting 37.5% from three. Senior point guard Dane Miller (12.6) is hitting 36.4%.
“Doris is kind of understanding the opportunity,” Henrickson said. “She’s a young lady who can create shots for herself like Danae but she’s also letting go of the ball when she needs to.
“She attacks so well that she draws traffic, like Danae, so defenses try to take away the driving lanes and bring the secondary defense to her quickly. She’s doing a really good job of moving the ball. It’s how we need to play offensively.”
Colorado State transfer Taylor Mole, a 6-2 forward who became eligible at the start of Big West play, has made half of her threes (12-for-24) to average 14.8 points along with 9.5 rebounds. Henrickson plans to give Mole her first start on Saturday.
“Taylor has been productive on both ends — rebounding and blocking shots and scoring,” she said. “She puts it on the floor better than I’d anticipated.
“I knew she was a capable three-point shooter but her ability to play a little one-on-one and the old-man, up-and-under game got us all jumping up and down in practice. Someone tried to block her shot and she pivoted and scored.
“She also plays longer than she is tall. She’s a better rim protector than I thought.”
The Westmont College women will also play Saturday, taking the court for the first time since its Dec. 12 exhibition game at Long Beach State. The Warriors, ranked No. 1 in the NAIA, will play host to Azusa Pacific at 3 p.m. Spectators will not be allowed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.