Despite 27 points from junior point guard Danae Miller and a double-double by freshman center Ila Lane, the UCSB women’s basketball team lost to Cal State Fullerton, 70-68, in the Big West Conference opener for both teams at the Thunderdome on Thursday night.
What made the loss more difficult for Gaucho coach Bonnie Henrickson to stomach was that UCSB had a 14-point second-quarter lead and a six-point lead to start the fourth quarter, and let them both slip away.
“At times we played well, but we weren’t aggressive in the fourth quarter at all, offensively,” Henrickson said. “But in this league, you have to be able to bounce back and turn it around quick.”
Which is what the Gauchos will try to do on Saturday when they host Cal Poly at 2 p.m.
Lane, who averages a double-double this season of 14.5 points and 12.9 rebounds per game, had 15 points and 15 rebounds in the losing cause.
After blowing the six-point lead to start the fourth, the Gauchos took a 60-58 lead when Miller buried her fifth 3-pointer of the game with just over a minute remaining in regulation. But a layup by Titans forward Aimee Book with 14 seconds remaining tied the score, 60-60. Book was fouled on the play, but missed the free throw. UCSB scored only seven points in the fourth quarter.
Fullerton was led by its backcourt tandem of Raina Perez and Taylor Turney. Perez finished with 23 points while Turney had 20.
“Turney and Perez are who we said they are. They score 43 points for them tonight,” Henrickson said. “They’re not running anything for them to score 43, they’re just playing. They’re two phenomenal playmakers in this league, and that killed us.”
Despite getting her ninth double-double of the season, Lane was not used as much or as effectively as Henrickson would have liked.
“We don’t get Ila good touches, we don’t get her deep catches, we miss her on some quick hits,” UCSB’s fifth-year coach said. “We stopped driving the ball, we don’t get to the free-throw line, we just weren’t aggressive enough.
“They had seven turnovers in the first half and just one in the second half. We just weren’t aggressive enough on defense.”
Cal State Fullerton finished the game shooting 42 % (30-for-71) and 5-for-15 from 3-point range.
The Gauchos, who were well over 50 percent for most of the first half, ended up 37.9% (25 of 66). UCSB really struggled from 3-point range, hitting just seven of 30 from beyond the arc. The loss dropped the Gauchos to 5-9 overall and 0-1 in the Big West Conference. The Titans — who are the only Big West team with a winning record — improved to 9-5 and 1-0 in conference.
“It’s disappointing,” Henrickson said. “We had chances, but we turned the ball over late and have empty possessions. We can’t beat ourselves.
“I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. We have to identify mistakes and clean up those mistakes and stop beating ourselves. We have to bounce back and try to beat Poly, who is a rival for us.”