LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Taking on the No. 7 team in the nation on Sunday afternoon, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team battled UCLA early before succumbing to a 74-44 defeat at the hands of the Bruins inside Pauley Pavilion.
One of the toughest places to play, UCLA had a 32-game winning streak at home snapped just recently to none other than No. 1 UConn on Nov. 21. With the win, the Bruins improve to 7-1, while a loss gives the Gauchos the reverse record of 1-7.
Featuring 11 players over 6-foot, the length and athleticism of the Bruins proved too much to overcome for the youthful Gauchos. UCLA forced 23 turnovers from UCSB, just one below its season-high, and scored 30 points off those turnovers.
The early minutes of the game showcased a scrappy battle that saw turnovers on both sides, and UCSB showed flashes of strong defensive stands while forcing UCLA to 16 turnovers as a group.
After an early three-pointer from Sarah Porter gave UCSB a 5-4 lead, the Bruins responded with a 10-0 run to take the lead and never looked back.
The Gauchos trailed just 32-18 at the break, but a 28-9 third quarter from UCLA, fueled by impressive play from the star tandem of Jordin Canada and Monique Billings, put the game out of reach. Canada, the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and an All-American, had four steals in the quarter to go with six points and a pair of assists while the 6-foot-4 Billings poured in 10 of her game-high 17 points in the period.
After struggling in the fourth quarter for a handful of games this season, a bright spot for the Gauchos was the fact that they outscored the Bruins 17-14 in the final frame. Strong play from the second unit of Cece Quintino, Sarah Bates, Tal Sahar, Nina Radford and Natalia Bruening led to some easy baskets and free-throws underneath the basket, which were hard to come by for most of the game.
UCSB was outscored 46-18 in the paint while giving up 18 second chance points, largely due to an astounding 22 offensive rebounds from the Bruins.
Drew Edelman led the Gauchos with 12 points and five rebounds in her return after missing last game while Porter also notched double-figures with 11 points. Freshman point guard Danae Miller was also a bright spot with regards to ball handling for UCSB, facing pressure from Canada and just turning the ball over two times in 28 minutes. She also tied Canada for game-high honors with five assists.
For UCLA, Canada filled up the stat sheet with 14 points, six rebounds, six steals and five assists to go with Billings' game-high 17 points and 10 rebounds. Michaela Onyenwere was also in double figures with 12.
UCSB faces another tough test this Thursday, Dec. 7 at 7:00 p.m. when the Gauchos welcome LMU (7-1) to the Thunderdome.