December 1, 2012

Gaels Outlast Gauchos, 49-39

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team limited visiting St. Mary's to just 30% shooting from the field and 49 points on Saturday afternoon, but it was not enough to overcome its own offensive struggles as the Gauchos fell, 49-39, in the Thunderdome.

The loss marks UCSB's third straight as it falls to 2-5 on the young season. St. Mary's, meanwhile, improves to 5-2.

The Gauchos were led by senior Sweets Underwood, who tallied 14 points to go along with nine rebounds – including five offensive boards. Senior Angelei Aguirre had eight points and contributed a career-best nine rebounds. Madeline Campbell had a career-high six rebounds while Melissa Zornig was second on the squad with nine points. 

"I'm disappointed. I am always disappointed when we lose," head coach Carlene Mitchell said. "But sometimes it's not the loss; it's how you lose. We have to find more consistency within the team. The two beside me (Angelei Aguirre and Sweets Underwood) are brining it every night.

"We have to find the right combination. That is my responsibility as the head coach, to make sure we have the right combination and that we are all on the same page. Because I just want a team that competes every night and the wins will take care of themselves somewhere down the road." 

The early goings were tightly contested as neither team led by more than three points in the opening 15 minutes. Trailing, 17-15 with just under five minutes to go in the half, St. Mary's went on a 7-0 run to take its biggest lead of the game into the locker rooms at 22-17. 

The Gaels pushed their lead to 10 in the opening minutes of the second half as they outscored UCSB, 7-2, to lead, 29-19 with 13:50 to go.

UCSB caught fire in the middle of the half as it went on a 10-0 run in a period of less than three minutes to tie the game at 31 apiece. Underwood, who scored six of her points during that span, led the comeback. A pair of free throws made by Aguirre gave UCSB its first lead of the second half with 6:10 to go in the game.

The Gaucho lead was short lived though as Jackie Nared was able to get to the charity stripe and sink two to tie the game. Mia Greco followed suit shortly thereafter to regain the lead for the Gaels, 35-33. In the final five minutes, St. Mary's outscored UCSB, 13-6, with 11 of their points coming from the free-throw line.

Though they shot just 30% from the field, the Gaels shot 84.6% from the free throw line, making 22-of-26. Nared, who led the team with 17 points, scored 10 of those points from the charity stripe.

"In general, we did a decent job on the defensive end," Mitchell said. "I mean you give up 49 points, you can't really complain a lot about that. But sometimes the timing of it at the free throw line – the fouling of jump shooters – we can't do that."

UCSB shot just 32.7% during the game and struggled from beyond the arc, going just 1-for-11 from the three-point range. The Gauchos shot 80% from the free-throw line, but made just five visits.

In addition to Nared's team-leading performance, the Gaels also got a double-double from Danielle Mauldin, who had 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Mia Greco had 12 points.

"We can find ways to win," Mitchell said. "We have all the elements. We just have to put it all together. It's on us."

UCSB will open a three-game road swing on Wednesday, Dec. 5 when it travels to Loyola Marymount for a 7 p.m. game against the Lions. The game can be heard live in Santa Barbara on KZSB AM 1290 and online here.

The Gauchos will return home on Friday, Dec. 21 to host Kentucky at 3 p.m. in the Thunderdome. Season tickets and single game tickets for women's basketball are available at the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here.