SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UCSB (11-17, 8-6) led from start to finish in their final home game of the season, as they blew out UC Irvine (4-23, 1-12) 66-37 on Thursday night in the Thunderdome.
Playing in her final home game as a Gaucho, Jasmine Ware led UCSB with 17 points and also finished with eight rebounds and three assists. Taylor Farris – who played off the bench for the first time since Jan. 7 – had a productive night with team highs of 13 rebounds and three blocks along with nine points and two steals.
Je Zhé Newton started at center for UCSB and finished with solid figures of nine points and eight rebounds. Overall, the Gauchos dominated the boards with a 53-30 edge over the Anteaters.
The team held UC Irvine to just 31 percent shooting on the night and held them to 37 points, the fewest points UCSB has allowed all year. The Gaucho defense particularly impressed in the second and fourth quarters when it gave up just four points in each. Overall, UCSB outscore the Anteaters 30-8 in those periods.
After Newton delivered the game's opening basket with a lay up, Irvine only tied the score two times for the rest of the way. The last tied score was at 8-8 with 4:23 left in the first quarter.
On the ensuing possession, Mokun Fajemisin blocked a would-be layup from Ware and looked to continue her team's 4-0 run. However, the forward never moved the ball out of the backcourt, Coco Miller picked off her pass and found Ware for the and-one play. After Ware sunk her free throw, the Gauchos officially opened a 13-2 run to end the quarter.
Kendra Morrison played a big role in keeping UCSB's momentum going, as she found her way to the foul line and also drained a last second three-pointer from the top of the arc, pushing the Gauchos ahead 15-8. A jumper from Raelyn Cheung-Sutton interrupted the scoring run, but the Gauchos finished the period with six unanswered points courtesy of back-t-back makes by Chaya Durr and a buzzer beater from Newton.
The Gauchos kept with their scoring ways in the second quarter and came up with their largest run of the game at 14-0. Of the seven shots UCSB made during that stretch, four came off a combination of turnovers and blocks.
UC Irvine outscored the Gauchos in the third quarter 19-15, but UCSB quickly jumped back into the driver's seat in the fourth quarter and cruised to their 29-point victory. In that period, UCSB once again held the Anteaters to four points, while scoring 14 themselves.
And just like in the second quarter, the Gauchos took off on another big run (12-0) to further separate themselves from the Anteaters. In that span, Ware and Makala Roper poured in a triple. For Ware, her three-pointer would go down as the final shot she made in her career at the Thunderdome.
The Gauchos will continue this week on the road this Saturday at Cal Poly starting at 2 p.m. The game will feature a video stream, audio broadcast, and live stats.