SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – For the second straight game, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team used a great defense and a quick offense to jump out to a double-digit lead in the first half.
The difference on Saturday at the Thunderdome, though, was that the Gauchos didn't allow their opponent to creep back into the game in the second half.
After watching a 28-point lead turn into a six-point differential in Thursday's win over St. Mary's, UCSB kept Loyola Marymount at a double-digit deficit throughout the afternoon and won easily, 66-49.
Once UCSB took a 13-3 lead at 13:36 on a free throw from Sweets Underwood, Santa Barbara kept its double-digit lead the rest of the way, expanding the distance to as many as 23 points midway through the second half.
Emilie Johnson led the way with 21 points – including five three-pointers – while Nicole Nesbit had 12 points off the bench and Sweets Underwood had her third double double in four games with 10 points and 10 boards.
"We set the tone again defensively from the tip and that's going to win us a lot of games," UCSB head coach Carlene Mitchell said. "Setting the tone on the defensive end and rebounding."
The win evened Santa Barbara's record at 2-2 while LMU falls to 0-3.
UCSB took a 26-6 lead with 10:13 left after a pair of free throws from Kirsten Tilleman and from there LMU was done. The lead swelled to 33-11 on a jumper by Kelsey Adrian as UCSB shot 43.8 percent in the first half, 46.2 percent in the second half and 44.8 percent for the game.
The Gauchos seemed to do everything right, outrebounding LMU 38-35 and holding the Lions to just 32.7 percent shooting from the floor. UCSB had 21 second chance points, the Gauchos' quickness and drive unmatched by LMU throughout the game.
Plus, UCSB limited its turnover total which had been an issue early in the season. The Gauchos had 13 assists – led by Johnson's four – to just nine turnovers.
Holding a 35-20 halftime lead, the Gauchos kept LMU at an arm's distance the rest of the way. Unlike when St. Mary's got as close as six points on Thursday thanks to a full-court, pressure defense, UCSB handled LMU well. The Lions never got closer than the halftime deficit and Johnson's jumper with 12:56 to play gave UCSB a 47-24 lead, putting the game securely into the Gauchos' pocket.
UCSB closes its homestand with a game on Wednesday vs. Washington. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and tickets are available by calling 893-UCSB (8272) or by clicking here. The game will be broadcast live online by clicking here and in Santa Barbara on AM 990 with the pregame show starting a half-hour prior to tip-off.
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