MORAGA, Calif.- The opener of UCSB's two-game Northern California tournament trip turned in to a poster day for the hosts.
The Gaucho women's basketball team fell behind early, and couldn't dig out from an ever-building hill piled up by the St. Mary's College Gaels in an 89-59 loss Friday afternoon at the McKeon Pavillion in the first game of the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Tournament.
"They did what they do well, they throw it inside, drive and kick. It's a tough day for our bigs, but it's a challenge they have to answer," said head coach Bonnie Henrickson.
Aliceah Hernandez scored all 13 of her points in the first half, but it was the combination of SMC forward Sydney Raggio and guard Stella Beck that carried the day offensively. Raggio scored a game-high 19 points while also grabbing a game-best nine rebounds, while Beck notched 18 points and generated 6 steals.
UCSB was outscored in the paint 52-16, and 14-6 on second chance points. The Gaels turned 16 Gaucho giveaways into 25 points, while UCSB converted just six points off the 10 SMC turnovers.
It was also the Gauchos roughest day shooting of the season, making 30.5 percent of their shots while St. Mary's dominance down low lead to 53.2 percent shooting. Opponents have scored on better than 47 percent of their shots in three of the four UCSB games this season.
"We've got to find toughness; toughness in between our ears, toughness to come in and do the job that needs to be done, and be more disruptive," Henrickson said.
A free throw from Drew Edelman, who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds in a foul-shortened 16 minutes, gave UCSB their only lead of the game at the 8:23 mark of the first quarter. From there, the Gauchos were able to get within one possession just two more times.
Natalia Bruening had a turn-and-score, two of her six points to go with six boards in 21 minutes of play, to cut it to 7-5 at the 5:51 mark. A 9-0 run pushed the St. Mary's lead up to 11, before UCSB responded over the final 1:25 with an 8-0 run capped by a Hernandez jumper.
In the second quarter UCSB twice drew within four, Hernandez making a triad of free throws, then on her second triple of the game, but by the time 1:08 remained before halftime the deficit had swelled to 15.
SMC were bolstered by solid outings off the bench from Claire Ferguson, who scored 13 in her Gaels debut while grabbing five rebounds. Emily Codding added 12 with six rebounds and two steals. Six players for the hosts nabbed more than two rebounds, versus just three from UCSB, as the Gauchos were beaten on the glass 42-32.
"There's no pointing fingers here except personal responsibility, and I've got to be better, each one of us. The staff, myself, it starts with me and on down the line," said Henrickson. "It's about us getting collectively better as our pieces get better."
In the second half the Gaels advantage ballooned as big as 32, with UCSB making just one of their final 14 shots from the field. St. Mary's College outscored the Gauchos 46-28 in the second half.
UCSB closes out the Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic tomorrow against the UAB Blazers at 12PM. Live audio play-by-play coverage begins on UCSBGauchos.com with the pregame show at 11:45AM.
"The good thing is we get to play tomorrow, because we've got to get it turned around quick. A little gut check tomorrow," Henrickson said.