LONG BEACH, Calif. - Grinding through their third of a four game road trip, UCSB couldn't come up with an answer against a relentless pressing defense.
Long Beach State forced a season-high 26 Gaucho turnovers, converting them to 35 points in powering a 59-45 defeat of UCSB Saturday evening at the Walter Pyramid.
"Give them credit, they came out and attacked us, and we just made really bad decisions," said head coach Bonnie Henrickson.
"Often times a press doesn't have to turn you over to be successful, obviously it was. On top of turning it over we had shot turnovers, horrendous possessions offensively."
The Gauchos (12-14, 7-6) put up just 15 points through the first 20 minutes as the hosts forced nine turnovers in the two inital quarters, cashing them in for 15 and 12 points. Raven Benton came off the bench for the 49ers to lead all scorers with a season-high 23 points in 26 minutes, while six different Long Beach State (18-9, 9-3) players had steals.
UCSB has lost their last six games against the 49ers at the Walter Pyramid. The Gauchos remain a game ahead of Cal Poly, who lost at home in overtime to UC Irvine, for fifth place in the Big West, but fell to a game and a half behind CSUN for the final first round bye in the Big West Tournament with the Matadors win at Hawaii late Saturday night.
"We've got to find some comfort in chaos, and we had no comfort in chaos. That's what was there when they stretch the defense and pick you up; we got mentally tired, mentally undisciplined, and made some bad decisions," Henrickson said.
Drew Edelman lead UCSB in scoring for the third consecutive game, putting home 16 points on seven of nine shooting while also snatching a game-tops eight rebounds. Drea Toler had 10 points, with four steals and four assists, and Onome Jemerigbe had eight points with three steals.
Long Beach's pressure pestered the Gaucho point guards in to 16 turnovers, as the teams were tied just once after the jump at the 8:01 mark of the first on a Jemerigbe layup. Anna Kim, who finished with 11 points and a game-best six assists, knocked down a three pointer 44 seconds later to give the hosts a lead they'd never relinquish. The 49ers lead 20-9 after one, and built on the advantage in the second for a 36-15 halftime score.
"They just came out, pressured the ball handlers, and we didn't have a [player] who could find a gap and get inside of it, collapse the defense and kick it out without [them] getting a hand on it or turning it over," said Henrickson.
The lead grew as big as 24 on an and-one by Kim on the second Beach possession of the second half, when Edelman went to work and scored eight of the next 10 UCSB points. She finished with 10 of her points in the third, as the Gauchos had the best percentage-wise shooting quarter of the game making eight of their 14 attempts. Still, despite outscoring Long Beach State 21-16 in quarter three it was 52-36 deficit at the horn.
In the fourth UCSB was able to cut the margin down to 13, but neither team was able to generate much as they combined to shoot six of 26 in the final frame. Toler had a pair of steal-and-score layups, pilfering three of her four pocket picks in the last 10 minutes. Julianna Ramey played the final two minutes, knocking down the second bucket of her career with a corner three for the final Gaucho basket at 2:14.
"It doesn't matter what you're going to do, you have to be aggressive and move confidently, which means you've got to have communication. Teams that don't communicate aren't confident, and it's hard to do all that," Henrickson said.
UCSB has Thursday off, with extra time to prepare for their final regular season road game against Big West leader UC Davis next Saturday. Tip off from The Pavillion is at 2 PM, with live broadcast play-by-play coverage on UCSBGauchos.com beginning at 1:45 PM.
"The one thing we can take away from this is we didn't quit and give in and let it get to 40, I'm proud of our group about that. That's the only thing we get to walk out of here with, the only thing, because the rest of it we have to own that, but I will take that," said Henrickson.
"Everybody's frustrated, incredibly frustrated, but nobody is going to quit and give in."