UC Irvine women’s basketball (3-18, 1-6) had no answer for the deadeye shooting of UC Santa Barbara (10-10, 5-2) Saturday afternoon, dropping the conference matchup 85-60 after falling behind early at the Bren Events Center.
The balanced Gaucho attack yielded 15 three pointers on 30 attempts and shot 31-56 (55.4 percent) overall while sinking all eight of their free throws.
“You pick your poison, they have a lot of weapons now,” said head coach Tamara Inoue, “I thought we did a good job on Drew (Edelman), but we let too many easy ones go on the outside. It was hard to catch up with that.”
UCI missed the steady hand of their point guard freshman Brooke Bayman and low-post presence junior Sabrina Engelstad. The ‘Eaters shot only 38.8 percent from the field and an uncharacteristic 4-16 from three, while only recording nine assisted buckets to the Gauchos’ 23.
Senior Shereen Sutherland led UCI with 20 points including 10-11 on free throws while grabbing five rebounds and four steals. Senior Mckenzie Piper was the only other ‘Eater to register double figures, scoring 13 points to go with six rebounds.
UCSB freshman Aliceah Hernandez had a game high 21 points on 7-10 shooting from deep, followed by sophomore Sarah Porter who knocked down 5 of 8 threes for 15 points. Two other Gauchos posted double digits, senior Onome Jemerigbe and junior Drea Toler dropped 12 apiece, while Toler led both squads with six assists.
It was off to the races from the tip for UCSB, who scored 21 straight points from beyond the arc in the first quarter on the way to a 23-11 score after one. The ‘Eaters struggled to find an offensive rhythm and shot only 30% from the field in the face of the Gauchos’ efficiency.
The second stanza was more of the same, and UCI fell behind 46-24 as UCSB refused to cool off. The Gauchos had their most effective stretch in the third quarter, making 9/13 field goals and expanding their lead to 29. UCI won the fourth quarter, 16-12, finally able to curtail their opponents’ hot streak by limiting them to 0-5 from the outside en route to the 85-60 final.
“I thought they played composed,” said Inoue, “We’re gonna score, but very rarely will we get out of the 60s. Offensively I think we’ll always stay consistent but we have to figure out the defensive side of it. We were depleted; we’re without our point guard and big man today so that was difficult. People had to play more minutes than they’re used to, and we let up some easy buckets in transition from people being tired.”
It looks promising that Bayman will be able to suit up for the next game but more unlikely for Engelstad who received a hard hit in Hawaii. The ‘Eaters will host conference leaders Long Beach State at the Bren next Saturday.