SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Facing Saint Mary's in an early Thursday afternoon matchup at The Thunderdome, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team got out to a strong offensive start for the second straight game, but couldn't keep pace with the hot shooting of the Gaels, falling 80-55.
"We beat ourselves during certain stretches. We made some really bad decisions," said head coach Bonnie Henrickson. "We've got to grow some pride defensively on the ball."
Sophomore guard Bri Anugwom led UCSB (1-6) in scoring for the third time in seven games, going for 15 points and three rebounds on 7-for-14 shooting. Junior center Natalia Bruening was also efficient on offense, hitting 4-of-6 shots for 11 points.
A high-scoring first quarter ended with the Gaels (4-2) leading 24-19, despite shooting 83.3% (10-12 FG) as a team compared to 37.5% (6-16 FG) for the Gauchos. The 19 points were a season-high for UCSB in the opening period. The Gauchos had put up just 14 first quarter points through their first two home games combined.
"I saw some fight in the first quarter," Henrickson said. "After that, there wasn't much. At some point there's got to be some competitiveness and some toughness to get somebody off the glass."
While UCSB's field goal percentage would settle at 33.9% by the end of the game, Saint Mary's never went cold. The Gaels shot an efficient 58.5% overall and were sharp all day from distance, knocking down 47.8% of their three-point attempts, 11-for-23. Saint Mary's also had a decisive 43-23 rebounding advantage.
The Gaels opened the second quarter on a 13-2 run, seeing them take a 37-21 lead. Santa Barbara would head into halftime trailing 47-28.
Coming out of the break, UCSB's play looked similar to the way it started the game, as a balanced Gaucho attack put up 23 points – a season-high for a quarter – on 66.7% shooting as a team. A 7-0 UCSB run cut the deficit to 54-41 midway through the period, but the Gaels would control things the rest of the way.
The Gauchos shot an efficient 11-for-13 from the foul line, with Bruening and guards Danae Miller and Kiana Vierra hitting three free throws each. In her third game back from injury, Miller earned her first start of the season, finishing with seven points (2-4 FG) and two assists.
UCSB will be back at home this Sunday when it takes on Grand Canyon at 2:00 p.m.