SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A struggling UC Riverside team was just what the doctor ordered for the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team.
After dropping a tough contest on Thursday and having played nothing but close, stomach-churning games over the past month, the Gauchos easily handled UCR and punished the Highlanders, 63-43 on Saturday in the Thunderdome. UC Riverside falls to 2-16 and 0-6 in the Big West with its eight consecutive loss this season.
Meanwhile the Gauchos improve to 7-8, 2-2. The 20-point win was the Gauchos' largest of the season and the 63 points scored was the team's second-highest total of the year. UCSB shot 41.3% from the floor and handed out 18 assists, a season best.
Sweets Underwood led the way with 16 points and seven rebounds as she was extremely active from the opening tip. Back in the starting lineup, Underwood scored the Gauchos' first eight points and was a major presence both offensively and defensively.
She helped UCSB enjoy a 45-26 rebounding advantage over the Highlanders, which included 33 defensive rebounds and limiting UCR to just one offensive board.
UCSB jumped out to a 16-8 lead midway through the first half but UCR rallied and brought the game to a bucket's difference moments later. While Santa Barbara led throughout the game the Highlanders kept it close until UCSB finished the half on a 6-2 run.
The Gauchos went on a 9-0 run midway in the second half to turn a 50-40 game into a laugher and cruised the rest of the way.
Emilie Johnson had three points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and no turnovers for the Gauchos while Angelei Aguirre finished with a career-high tying six points and a season-best seven rebounds.
UCSB will play on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Long Beach State with the pregame show on AM 990 starting at 6:30. Fans can also listen live online by clicking here.
The Gauchos don't return home until Jan. 26 when they face UC Davis. Tickets are available by calling 893-UCSB or by visiting our online ticket office.