It was a tale of two halves for the UCSB women’s basketball team on Friday night against visiting Santa Clara.
And neither one was very good, as the Broncos ran away with an 82-60 win at the Thunderdome.
In the first half, Santa Barbara was no match for the full-court press Santa Clara was showcasing. In the second half, and really the entire game, the Gauchos had no answer for the Broncos’ size inside. A big reason for that was the absence of UCSB center Natalia Bruening, who missed the game with an injury. In fact, the Gauchos only played seven players.
“They battled, they competed,” UCSB coach Bonnie Henrickson said of her short-handed team. “There’s not a lot of room for mistakes, and we’ve got to find a way to get guys off the glass and drive them back. There were just too many extra shots.
“Our first-shot defense was good. It was just the second and third opportunities (that they had).”
Santa Clara outscored UCSB, 40-18, in the paint while pulling down 17 offensive rebounds. The Broncos finished with a 41-24 advantage on the boards.
“We’ve got to clean that up, there’s five of them and five of us, and somebody’s got to be guarded by somebody,” Henrickson said. “Sometimes it’s a scramble. That may not be my guy (to guard), but that’s somebody.”
UCSB shot a respectable 42% from the field, but 11 first-half turnovers — due in large part to the Broncos’ press — put the Gauchos in an eight-point hole at halftime.
Santa Clara backed off the press in the second half, which was one of the reasons UCSB only turned it over six times. But the Broncos’ inside game was just too much for the Gauchos to handle. Redshirt senior forward Ashlyn Herlihy, from Arroyo Grande, led Santa Clara with 20 points and seven rebounds. The Broncos ended up shooting 48% (31-65) for the game, with a lot of that success coming from the inside. The Gauchos played most of the game with five guards.
“We got out of sorts and we weren’t matched up,” Henrickson said. “We got good looks, we shot the ball well, we’ve just got to get more shots. But 17 turnovers is too much. And then we’ve got to get them off the glass, I mean 17 offensive rebounds is too many.”
The loss dropped UCSB to 0-3, while Santa Clara, which had lost back-to-back games to Cal Poly, evened its record at 2-2.
UCSB has another shot at Santa Clara when the two teams meet again tonight at the Thunderdome at 5 p.m.
“It’s a quick turnaround, right?” Henrickson added. “Emotionally, they can’t let one loss turn into two even though this is the same team the next day. There’s some things we can clean up and get better.
“We have to be more competitive and put ourselves in a better position. When we got down so big in the second half, we struggled to answer runs. A lot of that was their post-ups (in the paint), and we’ve got to be better in that area.”
Redshirt senior Doris Jones led UCSB with 16 points, while Mira Shulman came off the bench to score 11.