SEATTLE – Provided with a couple opportunities in the closing seconds of the season opener on Friday night, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team was unable to pull off the finish, falling to Seattle 60-55 at the Connolly Center.
Trailing by 11 points with just under four minutes to play, UCSB took advantage of some missed shots by the Redhawks and had some clutch baskets to cut it to 58-55 with a half-minute left.
It was a spirited effort from the Gauchos in the first game under head coach Carlene Mitchell.
Emilie Johnson led the way with 20 points and Sweets Underwood had 14 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for UCSB who couldn't overcome the hot hand of Seattle's Talisa Rhea.
The senior from Juneau, Alaska and transfer from Oregon State had 20 points and 12 rebounds, hitting some big-time shots to keep the Gauchos at an arm's length.
Rhea banked in a three-pointer to end the first half and give the Redhawks (1-0) a 30-28 halftime lead. She also hit a key 17-foot jumper in which she was fouled with 5:09 to go for a 52-44 lead. Twice, she found Brenda Adhiambo with sharp passes late in the game for easy layups and all in all, was a thorn in the side of Santa Barbara.
Kirsten Tilleman had 10 rebounds and five points for UCSB, which shot 37.3 percent for the night. Seattle hit 43.4 percent of its shots. Unfortunately, turnovers doomed the Gauchos who had 17 compared to just seven assists as the Redhawks played a tight, trapping defense throughout the evening.
UCSB travels to Portland State on Sunday for a 2 p.m. game with the pregame show online by clicking here starting at 1:30 p.m. AM 990 in Santa Barbara will air the game live from opening tip.
The Gauchos open their home schedule with a 6 p.m. game on Nov. 17 vs. St. Mary's at the Thunderdome. Season tickets are still available - just call 893-UCSB (8272) or click here.