SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Despite setting a new season-high in points, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team fell at home to New Mexico State in its last game of the calendar year Sunday afternoon, 81-73.
For the second time this season, a pair of Gauchos hit the 20-point mark together, as guards Danae Miller and Coco Miller finished with 22 points apiece. The former set a new career-high in scoring for the second straight game, while the latter recorded her third straight 20-point effort.
"We competed," head coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "Danae brought a bunch of energy with the ball, drove it and dribbled downhill. She was really good."
Unfortunately for the Gauchos (3-10), they weren't able to fully dig themselves out of a 16-point first half hole. A contested, high-arching three-pointer by guard Tal Sahar cut the Aggies' (8-5) lead to just two points, 69-67, with just over four minutes left in the game. That capped a nine minute stretch which saw UCSB outscore NMSU 21-10.
Sahar's trey would be UCSB's last one on the day, though. The Gauchos missed their final five three-pointers after that point, and were just 2-of-14 (14.3%) from range in the fourth quarter. They were 7-for-14 on threes in the first three quarters.
No Gaucho was hotter from the field over the first three quarters than Coco Miller, as she poured in 20 of her 22 points before the final period. She was 4-of-7 on threes prior to the fourth, but would miss her final five attempts, playing all 40 minutes for the second time this season. She also finished with three assists and three steals.
Danae Miller continued a recent upward trend in her aggressiveness from the point guard position, especially down the stretch to help bring her team back. The sophomore from Carson, Calif. scored 14 of her career-best 22 points in the second half, finishing 7-of-11 from the field.
Miller made all three of her attempts in the third quarter, including two consecutive layups plus a foul to bring the Aggie lead into single digits. She also dished out eight assists, the second-highest total of her career, and was 7-of-12 from the free throw line.
The Gauchos were able to get to the foul line with regularity, ending up with a 18-for-25 (72%) mark at the charity stripe. The Aggies were an efficient 16-for-19 (84.2%) from the line.
While Santa Barbara took care of the ball, turning it over a season-low eight times to NMSU's 14, the biggest difference came in field goal percentage. The Aggies shot at least 50 percent as a team in all four quarters, finishing with a 57.7 to 35.9 percent advantage in shooting percentage.
Sahar led the UCSB bench with 14 points, knocking down 3-of-8 from three-point land. Sharing a team-high with five boards each were guard Bri Anugwom, who added nine points, and freshman Megan Ormiston, who scored six (3-5 FG).
"We got some activity from the 5," Henrickson said of what helped close the gap in the second half. "Megan rebounded, she rolled hard. We need some production from the five, and she did a good job with her minutes in the second half."
UCSB's 16 assists were good for its second-most of the year.
Santa Barbara will head down to CSUN next Saturday, Jan. 5 where it will open its 2019 Big West slate against the Matadors at 4:00 p.m.