When the UCSB women’s basketball team played at UC Riverside on Jan. 18, the Gauchos got off to a terrible start, trailing by as many as 13 in the first quarter. They never recovered and lost by five.
On Saturday, UCSB exacted sweet revenge with a 65-47 victory over UCR at the Thunderdome.
Freshman center Ila Lane recorded her 16th double-double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Tal Sahar had 16 points off the bench for the Gauchos, who led by as many as 30 points in the third quarter.
“We had good rhythm and we made good decisions, offensively,” UCSB coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “We were just really aggressive and I thought we made them uncomfortable.”
That’s for sure.
The Highlanders never got on track against a tenacious Gaucho defense. UCSB led 18-8 after the first quarter and 40-15 at halftime. Every player on the court for the Gauchos made contributions in what was one of the best-played games by UCSB (12-14, 7-6 Big West Conference) this season.
Redshirt senior guard Coco Miller not only added 13 points, she was outstanding defending UCR’s top offensive player, Jannon Otto.
Otto finished with 17 points, but a number of them were in the second half when the game was pretty much out of reach. Henrickson was extremely impressed with Miller’s defensive job against Otto.
“Coco was unbelievable with Otto,” UCSB’s fifth-year coach said. “She just stayed with her like she was velcro. Otto just couldn’t get loose.
“We had good pressure on the ball, too. It wasn’t just Coco’s matchup, it was everybody. I thought we were good.”
The Gauchos ended up shooting 43.1% (25-58) from the field, which included going 7 of 23 from 3-point range. UCSB was also 8-for-10 at the free-throw line.
As good as the Gauchos were on offense, a great deal of UCSB’s success came from what it did at the defensive end of the floor. There were a number of fastbreak opportunities that the Gauchos turned into points at the other end.
“We got in transition, got some good looks, and then we just had balance,” Henrickson said. “We executed a lot of good-looking passes to Ila, which was important. We got a lot of people involved.
“When we do that, we’re harder to guard, it increases our chances of success, it’s fun to watch, it’s fun to play and it’s fun to coach. There were so many positives today, and that’s important. It was big to get off to such a good start.”