Rainbow Wahine go cold in loss at UC Santa Barbara

·3 min read

Jan. 28—UC Santa Barbara overcame the loss of its leading scorer and surged away from the University of Hawaii women's basketball team in a 65-51 Big West win on Thursday at the Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, Calif.

UCSB guard Alexis Tucker scored a game-high 19 points, center Ila Lane added 13 points and 11 rebounds and the Gauchos (10-6, 4-3 Big West ) snapped UH's three-game winning streak despite seeing point guard Danae Miller leave with an injury in the second quarter.

UCSB shot 51.% from the field in the game—going 6-for-7 in the fourth quarter—while holding UH to 32.1 %. The Rainbow Wahine (7-8, 3-2 ) went 5-for-23 from 3-point range and their overall shooting percentage was their second lowest of the season.

"We really struggled shooting the ball tonight, " UH coach Laura Beeman said in a phone interview. "We had some wide-open looks and just didn't hit them. Defensively, we had some really bad breakdowns one-on-one, which I'm pretty shocked about still.

"After you come down on the offensive end and just can't hit shots, it puts a lot of pressure on your defense. They had some really good individual players that really exposed us in some spots."

UH forward Amy Atwell finished with nine points—nearly 11 below her league-leading average—on 4-for-12 shooting. Freshman Jacque David scored nine of her team-high 11 points in the final minutes. Guard Daejah Phillips finished with 10 points and Kelsie Imai added eight.

Atwell entered the trip as the reigning Big West Player of the Week and coming off a 33-point performance against Cal State Bakersfield last Saturday. Tucker drew the defensive assignment on Atwell for much of the game and helped the Gauchos force the ball out of Atwell's hands while holding her to single-digit scoring for the first time since UH's season-opening road trip at San Diego and USC on Nov. 9 and 11.

"Every time (Atwell ) catches the ball she's going to have a hand in her face or when she puts it on the floor and attacks the basket everyone's going to collapse and teams are going to make us prove that we have other people that can shoot the ball and score, " Beeman said.

Atwell scored on a short jumper on UH's opening possession to give the Wahine their lone lead of the game. But they went 1-for-12 over the remainder of the period and fell behind 15-5.

Miller, the Gauchos' top scorer with 12.8 points per game, went to the floor with an injury with six minutes left in the second quarter and had to be helped off the court. The Gauchos led 21-14 at that point and managed to take a 26-24 lead into halftime despite going without a field goal in the final 5 :38 of the first half.

UH tied the game twice early in the third quarter before Tucker hit a 3-pointer at the 6 :51 mark to push the Gauchos ahead for good. Leading 41-37 with 9 :18 left in the fourth, UCSB took control with a 10-0 run capped by back-to-back 3-pointers by Anya Choice and Taylor Mole. The Gauchos went 10-for-12 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to extend the lead.

Choice finished 4-for-4 from the field to contribute 11 points off the bench.

"You can't keep climbing out of holes—eventually you run out of that magic, " Beeman said. "We've done it occasionally in the past, but that will run out on you and it ran out on us tonight."

The Rainbow Wahine dropped from second to fourth in the Big West standings and conclude their road trip on Saturday at Cal State Northridge (6-10, 2-4 ).