UC SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara Women’s Basketball team reclaimed first place in The Big West with a convincing 65-53 win over the Rainbow Wahine of Hawai’i. Alexis Whitfield recorded her eighth double-double in the win going for 23 points and 19 rebounds in the contest.
FROM HEAD COACH BONNIE HENRICKSON
Thoughts on the game: “I thought defensively we were scrappy and tough,” said Henrickson. “We didn’t get a lot of shots in rhythm and some double clutches, there was a lot of contact at the rim too. I thought Laurel (Rockwood) did a good job, Perez is a really good three-point shooter, and for her to guard on-ball… it's a tough matchup but she was really good.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
It was all UC Santa Barbara from the jump. The Gauchos got out to an early 12-4 lead and although the Rainbow Wahine showed some fight the Gauchos would not allow them to gain any momentum. The Santa Barbara defense held Hawai’i to just nine points in the opening quarter not allowing any offensive weapon to get open. Alexis Whitfield dominated in the quarter scoring nine points while Alyssa Marin added six to the Gauchos 22-point first quarter.
UC Santa Barbara carried that momentum over to the second quarter and continued to fire on all cylinders. The Gauchos continued to knock down their shots including shooting 50 percent from deep in the second quarter alone. Jessica Grant found her rhythm scoring six points on 2-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc. Santa Barbara was able to outscore the Rainbow Wahine by one to take a 14-point lead to halftime.
Out of the break, both teams traded buckets for the majority of the quarter. Near the end of the third, the Gauchos went on a 6-2 run to extend their lead to 20. Alexis Whitfield completely took over the game scoring over half her points in the quarter while also grabbing six of her 19 rebounds.
In the fourth quarter, the Gauchos built their lead to as much as 22 after Whitfield made a driving layup. The Rainbow Wahine started to dig in defensively and cut the lead to 12, but the Gaucho defense continued their strong play and held Hawai’i scoreless for the last three and a half minutes of the final frame. The Gauchos held tough and avenged their loss from The Big West Championship Final a season ago.
FROM THE STUDENT-ATHLETES
Whitfield on avenging last year's loss in the Championship Final: “It was a very tough loss last year and when you go through that it puts a chip on your shoulder,” said Whitfield. “Today was all about the energy, from the jump we had a ton of energy. That energy is infectious and it isn’t so much living off the past, but today we came as a unit and it was the best energy we have had in a long time.”
Marin on her blocked shots: “We don’t really focus on blocking shots, it was fun at the moment but I am more of a take-a-charge player,” said Marin. “A lot of teams are starting to sidestep me now and not go right at me.”
LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS
-- Alexis Whitfield recorded her eighth double-double of the season in her 23-point, 19-rebound performance. The 19 rebounds are tied for 12th in program history for rebounds in a single game.
-- Alyssa Marin scored 12 points in the victory, her fourth consecutive game scoring in double figures.
-- The Gauchos finished the game shooting a perfect 15-15 from the free throw line.
-- UC Santa Barbara continues to shoot the ball well from deep. This was the fifth consecutive game the Gauchos have shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc.
UC Santa Barbara will have a week off to prepare for UC Davis. The Gauchos and Aggies will meet on Feb. 1 in Davis, Calif. tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
(Article courtesy of UCSB Athletics)