Despite Season-High 11 Three-Pointers, Gauchos Fall to Santa Clara 69-58 at Home

Sarah Porter (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Sarah Porter (Photo by Tony Mastres)

Despite hitting a season-high 11 three-pointers, UCSB (2-4) struggled on the glass Wednesday night, getting outrebounded 49-23 by Santa Clara (3-3) on the way to a 69-58 loss, its first home loss of the season. Sarah Porter continued her hot shooting on the way to a team-high 15 points, while Aliceah Hernandez scored 10 points in her Gaucho debut.

"We went through spurts where we guarded, we got opportunities, we turned them over, forced them to call timeout," Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "We'll get to a point where we recognize we have to play 40 minutes like that and not just in spurts."

Three different Gauchos ended the night hitting a career-high three field goals from downtown, including Porter, Hernandez and Onome Jemerigbe, who were a combined 9-20 on threes. Porter, who went 6-11 from the field and 3-7 from deep, reached double-digit scoring for the third straight game.

Drea Toler, making her first start of the season, also reached double-digits for the second straight game with 11 points on 5-10 shooting. She also tied for the team-high in both assists (4) and steals (3).

After trailing by as much as 11 early on, the Gauchos took their first lead of the game 40-39 on a jumper by Toler with 1:11 to go in the third quarter. However, the Broncos answered right back with a 7-0 run to take control of the game at 46-40 early in the fourth.

Santa Barbara's defense held Santa Clara to 38.5 percent shooting in the second half, but struggled to come back due to its inability to grab rebounds. Hernandez scored all 10 of her points in the fourth quarter, including converting a four-point play with 1:03 left to bring her team within five at 63-58, but by giving up 12 offensive rebounds in the second half alone, the Gauchos couldn't find a way to get over the hump.

"It felt really good to be out there," Hernandez said. "My role on the team is to make shots, play good defense and rebound. I've been out for about six weeks so it felt nice to finally get back, get in the game and make shots for the team."

UCSB ended the night with a 23-14 advantage in turnovers and had 11 steals, marking the third time they've reached double-digit steals this season. However, they set multiple season-lows, going just 3-4 on free throws and tallying just 23 rebounds. The Broncos meanwhile went 18-25 from the line.

"We've got to grow up here pretty quick and recognize that our work is not done until we get the ball," Henrickson said. "We certainly aren't doing that. You have to be disciplined enough to create some contact and keep your person behind you."

Santa Clara was on fire to start the game, hitting its first three shots, all three-pointers, to take a quick 9-2 lead. UCSB came out sluggish on both ends, shooting just 3-13 from the field in the first quarter as the Broncos took an 18-7 lead into the second.

The Gauchos would pick up the defensive energy in a big way for the rest of the half, forcing 16 Bronco turnovers, a season-high for a half. Leading the way on the defensive end was Taylor Farris, whose consistent energy and activity led her to a season-high three steals through 20 minutes.

UCSB was able to maintain its high-pressure defense the rest of the half, forcing three turnovers and scoring three fast break layups in under a minute to cut the lead to 30-31 heading into the break despite allowing the Broncos to shoot 13-25 (52 percent) as a team. Porter scored 12 points in the first half, already surpassing her previous career-high of 11.

Also making her UCSB debut was freshman center Natalia Bruening, who converted her only shot of the game into a three-point play in the second quarter.

The Gauchos will head back on the road to face LMU this Friday looking for their first road win of the season.