Three days after an impressive win over UC Irvine, the UCSB women’s basketball team fell flat in a 63-51 loss to Hawai’i on Saturday afternoon at the Thunderdome.
Julissa Tago had 21 points and Lauren Rewers finished with 16 to lead the Rainbow Wahine. It wasn’t the start to the game that killed the Gauchos, it was the second quarter, when Santa Barbara scored a grand total of three points.
UCSB’s only field goal came from freshman center Ila Lane with one minute remaining in the period. It was the Gauchos’ lowest output for a quarter this season.
“I said at shootaround this morning, ‘Let’s move the ball,’” UCSB coach Bonnie Henrickson recalled. “‘The more we hold the ball in one spot, the more it’s going to be to their advantage because of their size.’ We held the ball and played right into their hands in the second quarter.
“We also took ill-advised shots in that second quarter. We just took really bad, undisciplined shots. You’ve got to be able to score and you’ve got to be able to manufacture some offense in transition, and we didn’t do that in the second quarter.”
UCSB did all of that correctly in the first quarter, when it outscored Hawai’i, 20-16.
The Gauchos defense in the second quarter was exceptional, as the Rainbow Wahine scored only 10 points. But because Santa Barbara struggled so mightily in the period with just three points, it trailed 26-23 at halftime.
Hawai’i then went on to outscore UCSB 37-28 in the second half.
“Our offense was just stagnant,” Henrickson said.
Lane, who scored the Gauchos’ first seven points of the game, finished with her 13th double-double of the season with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
“She had 20 and 15, but we struggled around her,” Henrickson said. “It’s more of the decision making, and we weren’t connected. … You have to be connected, the shooter does, the screener does, the ball handler does to feel that.
“We’re just not working together, and we’ve got to clean that up. You can pass the ball, shoot it, or drive it, but you can’t hold the ball. Today, we were holding the ball.”
UCSB finished the game shooting 34.5% (20 of 58), 25% (4-for-16) from 3-point range and 7 of 11 (63.6%) from the free-throw line.
Hawai’i (13-10, 7-3 Big West Conference) was 23-for-49 (46.9%) from the field, 6-for-21 (28.6%) from 3-point range and 11 of 15 (73.3%) from the free-throw line. Along with Lane, senior guard Coco Miller also had a strong game for the Gauchos with 19 points and six steals.
Henrickson was asked if she felt it was a lack of effort that dropped UCSB to 9-13 overall and 4-5 in the Big West Conference.
“We weren’t moving the ball, but I don’t think that’s being lazy,” she said. “I don’t know what we’re doing. Right now (without looking at the video) I don’t have an answer for that. I don’t call our kids lazy, they’re not selfish. It might look like that, but I think they’re just caught watching.
“We got caught standing and watching. If you don’t have Ila (on a pass) then get rid of it. I’ll look at it tonight, but I wouldn’t say that about our kids that they’re lazy. I wouldn’t do that. We’re not lazy and we’re not selfish.”
On a bright note, the 2003-04 UCSB women’s basketball team was honored at halftime. That Gaucho group is the only one in program history to make it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
Santa Barbara defeated Colorado and highly ranked Houston at the Thunderdome in the first two rounds of the tournament to advance. In the Sweet 16, the Gauchos played second seed Connecticut. UCSB lost the game by eight to the eventual national champions. For UConn, it was the Huskies only single-digit victory of that postseason. They plowed through everyone else. Among those on hand for Saturday’s ceremony was former coach Mark French.
“I will never forget that season,” French told the News-Press just minutes before the ceremony. “As with any year, success is all about getting hot at the right time. We were playing our best basketball at just the right time.
“The Colorado game was probably one of the best games in my entire coaching career. We were hitting on all cylinders in that game, and then we were fortunate to beat a very good Houston team in a thriller.”