The UC Santa Barbara Women’s Basketball team won their third straight game and improved to 2-0 in Big West action after a 64-56 win over UC Riverside. Skylar Burke and Alexis Whitfield combined for 31 points in the game as UC Santa Barbara extended their winning streak.
FROM HEAD COACH BONNIE HENRICKSON
What was said after a poor start to the game: “We just weren’t ready to compete,” said Henrickson. “If we would have lost today that would have been an upset in the league and that’s how upsets happen, you just show up and don’t compete. I think this group is humble, I don’t believe it is arrogance but are we mature enough and do we have old enough players that will step up and say, ‘Hey, we need to come play today.’ It always means more coming from players.”
On Burke’s performance: “She had good rhythm from the three and for her, she just goes 100 miles per hour. I would rather tame a lion than teach a kitty cat to roar, and she is a lion as mar as her aggressiveness. She is finding a better rhythm so that has been good. Her three looks good and she is really the best three-level scorer we have.”
On Whitfield’s consistent play: “To me, I think there is so much more for her. She is really talented and really productive, but I see another level in her. She got gassed tonight but it’s not her effort. If you think about it she didn’t play those kinds of minutes last year, this is new for her playing as many minutes as she does on a day of rest.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
A slow start to the game resulted in the Gauchos falling behind by as much as 11 in the opening quarter. The UC Riverside lead would not last. After a timeout by the Gauchos to get regroup after the rugged start, UC Santa Barbara started to find their rhythm and intensity on both ends of the floor. Before the first quarter came to a close the Gauchos were able to pull within eight.
The second quarter was all Gauchos from start to finish as they outscored the Highlanders 25-9 in the period. Skylar Burke got the scoring started with a three-point jump shot accounting for three of her nine points in the quarter. Mary McMorris added six going a perfect 3-for-3. On the defensive side of the ball, Santa Barbara was able to stifle UCR all period limiting them to just 23 percent shooting. Four other Gauchos recorded points in the period and Santa Barbara took a 37-29 lead into halftime.
For the majority of the third quarter, the Gauchos and Highlanders traded baskets, but a late surge by the Gauchos extended their lead to 10 by the end of the quarter. Alexis Whitfield scored six of her 16 total points on 3-of-4 shooting while grabbing four rebounds.
Up by 10 entering the final quarter, UC Santa Barbara grew their lead to as much as 16 after two three-pointers by Whitfield and Burke. The Highlanders tried to fight back going on a 5-0 run but it would end there as the Gauchos regained momentum of the game. Santa Barbara held onto the lead and came out victorious moving to 2-0 in Big West action.
LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS
- Skylar Burke’s 15-point performance marks a new season and career-high for her. She was perfect from three going 4-for-4 from beyond the arc.
- Laurel Rockwood was a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. Her four made free throws broke her previous career-high of two. Rockwood was also a team-best +15 while on the floor.
- As a team, the Gauchos recorded 15 assists on 23 made baskets.
- The Gauchos shot a season-high 60 percent from three and 90 percent from the free-throw line.
The Gauchos will have their first Big West road test of the season as they travel to La Jolla to take on UC San Diego on Thursday, Jan. 4. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at UC San Diego.
Burke's Spark, Whitfield's Consistent Play Lead Gauchos Over Highlanders was originally published at https://ucsbgauchos.com/news/2023/12/30/womens-basketball-burkes-spark-whitfields-consistent-play-lead-gauchos-over-highlanders.aspx.
Photos courtesy UCSB Athletics.