SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The sun was shining bright on the Central Coast on Saturday afternoon, but the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball's offense struggled to stay warmed up as it fell, 66-47, to Cal Poly in Mott Gym during the first of two Blue-Green Rivalry games between the teams this season.
With the loss, UCSB falls to 6-11 on the season and to 2-3 in Big West play. The Mustangs improve to 10-6 overall and 4-1 in league games.
After limiting UC Davis to 11 points in the first half just a week ago, UCSB gave up 14 points in the opening five minutes to the Mustangs. Cal Poly opened the game with a 10-0 run while the Gauchos saw their first five shots of the game bounce off the rim. Junior Melissa Zornig finally got UCSB on the board when she hit the first of her two three-pointers of the half.
The Gauchos clawed their way into the game and cut their deficit to four points at 24-20 when Zornig hit a lay-up with 3:59 to go in the half. Reigning Big West Player of the Week Molly Schlemer, however, was almost single-handedly responsible for keeping UCSB at bay as she scored eight of her 10 points in the half – and eight of the Mustangs' final 10 in the first – in the last 10:32 of the stanza to give her team a 28-22 advantage heading into the break.
Cal Poly quickly put a stop to any hope of a Gaucho comeback early in the second half as they opened with a 21-7 run that gave them a 20-point lead with 9:15 to go. The closest UCSB would get to the Mustangs down the stretch was 15 points after senior Angelei Aguirre hit a jumper followed by a free-throw with 4:47 remaining.
"If we are going to be the team that we ended up being last year, you have to know that shots aren't always going to fall and you need to find a way to make stops," head coach Carlene Mitchell said. "They got on a little run there and we didn't stop the bleeding."
After shooting 32.1% (9-for-28) in the first half, the Gauchos improved in the second (41.7%), but their 36.5% for the game just couldn't stack up to Cal Poly's 48.3% field goal percentage.
The Mustangs were led by big performances from Schlemer and Kayla Griffin. The former finished with 22 points and eight rebounds. Griffin, meanwhile, had 21 points to go along with five assists and nine boards.
For the Gauchos, Aguirre led the way with 10 points and four assists. Senior Sweets Underwood finished with nine points and eight boards. Senior Kirsten Tilleman led the team with nine rebounds to go with four points and Zornig finished with eight points and four assists.
The Gauchos will be back in action on Thursday, Jan. 24 when they head to Cal State Northridge for a 7 p.m. pairing with the Matadors. The game will be broadcast live online at UCSBgauchos.com and a live video stream is available on BigWest.tv.