RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team cut a 17-point deficit down to just seven at the end of three quarters, but UC Riverside used a 26-point fourth quarter to pull away to a 73-60 win at the Student Recreation Center Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Freshman forward Megan Ormiston achieved a career high for the Gauchos (4-16, 1-6 Big West) in the loss, earning 10 points in 26 minutes.
Despite making just one shot in the first quarter, sophomore guard Bri Anugwom's triple less than three minutes into the game, the combination of UCSB's defense and Riverside's (10-11, 4-3 Big West) own shooting woes meant the score was only 10-3 in favor of the Highlanders after the opening period.
"Defensively, I thought we were good. It's not our defense, we just have to be able to manufacture some offense," remarked UCSB Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson.
Then, Riverside began to break the game open. Guard Jannon Otto's layup to open second quarter scoring put the hosts up 12-3 and was instrumental in keeping the momentum in what turned out to be a Riverside 17-0 run.
A few minutes later, Riverside reached their largest lead of the game as Forward Malou De Kergret's second made jumper gave the Highlanders a 23-6 lead with 4:41 left in the second quarter.
After trading baskets, UCSB would come alive by converting on six of their next seven shots, capped off by sophomore point guard Danae Miller's three-pointer with 31 seconds left until the halftime intermission that cut the lead down to 11, 31-20.
Another high-scoring quarter would follow, as Otto extended the Riverside lead back up to 15 with just under seven minutes left in the third quarter by converting on the first free throws of the game by either team.
UCSB rallied back yet again, as redshirt junior guard Coco Miller buried a three-pointer to kickstart a 16-8 run over the rest of the quarter that ended as Anugwom caught a lobbed pass from Danae Miller to score on a buzzer-beating layup off the glass.
The Highlanders continued to make things difficult for the Gauchos, however, as Otto, De Kergret, and forward Daphne Gnago kept up the scoring to the tune of a 61-47 lead with 3:46 left in regulation.
Despite another Anugwom layup, an Ormiston putback, and a pair of junior guard Tal Sahar treys to cut the deficit to 10 with a minute left, UC Riverside had done enough earlier in the game to see the game out and win 73-60.
The majority of the Gauchos' production came from the bench, led by Sahar's 18 and Ormiston's 10. Freshman guard Kianna Vierra added another three points.
"I thought Megan's activity levels were really good. She moves without the ball and she can drive and drop. She scores what she scores, but it's her activity level that gets her those opportunities. We moved the ball and she got eight shots and seven offensive rebounds as a result."
In addition, that trio combined to outscore Riverside 31-0 in bench points.
Sahar also had ten rebounds, her first time this season with double-digit rebounds.
"She got the first offensive rebound. Her energy level was good as well- she tried to hunt balls on the outside when she was on defense, and she did a better job of letting [the ball] go on offense [when she didn't have a good shot open]. That was evident with her three assists," said Henrickson.
Anugwom led the starting lineup with 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting, adding four rebounds, an assist, and a steal.
Danae Miller recorded nine points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and a steal.
UCSB will play their next pair of games at home. First, they welcome Big West Conference leaders UC Davis on Thursday, February 7 at 7:00 p.m. Two days later, they take on CSUN in a rematch of the Gauchos' conference opener, which they lost 73-65.