Gauchos Start Second Half Off Slow, Fall on Road at Hawaii

Danae Miller (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Danae Miller (Photo by Tony Mastres)

HONOLULU, Hawaii – Following a big victory against CSUN last week, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team was unable to pick up a second straight win on Saturday at Hawaii, falling to the Rainbow Wahine 72-49.

The loss moves the Gauchos to 5-18 overall and 2-8 during Big West play. Hawaii improves to 10-13 overall, 6-4 in conference.

Sophomore point guard Danae Miller was one of the bright spots for UCSB in the game, putting up a team-high 17 points including a career-high 8-of-10 from the free throw line. Miller scored 12 of her 17 points in the second half, converting a pair of three-point plays at the basket and forcing her way to the line. Unfortunately for UCSB, the second half is where things went wrong.

After hanging close throughout the first half, a lackadaisical start for the Gauchos out of the halftime break would see Hawaii embark on a 22-4 run – including 15 unanswered at one point – to extend to a 45-25 advantage. The Rainbow Wahine couldn't miss from the outside to start the third, knocking down four of their first five three-point attempts. They would finish the quarter by punishing the Gauchos on the inside though, eventually outscoring UCSB 30-15 while shooting a blistering 64.7 percent from the field.

While Santa Barbara would settle at 30.4 percent from the field, it did find success at the free throw line, especially down the stretch. UCSB finished 18-for-26 from the line, good for its second-most made free throws during conference play.

The Gauchos didn't have a bad night on the glass either, pulling down 32 rebounds to Hawaii's 33. They were a bit sloppy over the opening 20 minutes though, doubling the Rainbow Wahine 10-5 in turnovers. UCSB finished with a 17-13 disadvantage in giveaways.

Junior center Natalia Bruening got out to a strong start, going 3-for-3 from the field in the opening 11 minutes of the game. She would make just one more shot the rest of the way though on two attempts, finishing with eight points and five rebounds in 21 minutes. Also scoring eight points was sophomore Bri Anugwom, who also pulled down five rebounds and was an efficient 2-for-3 from beyond-the-arc.

Guard Coco Miller was held in check by the Rainbow Wahine throughout, as well as being hampered by foul trouble. Miller finished 0-of-5 from the field with two points.

UCSB will return home this weekend for a home matchup against UC Irvine as Gauchos look to break even in their season series with the Anteaters. The game is set for a 4:00 p.m. tipoff on Saturday, Feb. 16.