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Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank
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College Basketball

UCSB Women Play Well Down Stretch in Loss at LMU

The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team battled down the stretch against a tough Loyola Marymount team on Monday night, but it wasn't enough to overcome a slow start as UCSB fell 70-57.

Despite the loss to the undefeated Lions (3-0), the Gauchos (0-4) came away with a handful of positives to build on moving forward, particularly on the offensive end. Several Gauchos put together their best performances of the early season, but none played better than guard Coco Miller, who poured in game-highs of 20 points and five assists in 39 minutes.

"Coco was big for us playing at the point," head coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "We want to push the ball in transition, get it in the paint and move it. That's important for us to be able to do, and she's one of our best at it."

After a 19-5 LMU run blew the game open in the third quarter, seeing the visitors take their largest lead of the night at 45-24, the Gauchos would look like a different team the rest of the way, led by the backcourt tandem of Miller and Tal Sahar. The two combined for 26 of UCSB's 33 second half points, helping cut the 21-point deficit to as little as eight in the final minutes.

Serving as the team's lead ball-handler and playmaker, Miller connected on an efficient 53.3 percent (8-15 FG) of her shots on the night, including 2-of-6 from three-point range. This comes after she shot just 19 percent (4-21 FG) over her last two outings. It was her first 20-point game in over 22 months, and the fifth of her career.

Sahar meanwhile overcame an even colder shooting slump. Coming off the bench for the second straight game, the former Calabasas High School standout put up a season-high 15 points – her third-highest total ever in a Gaucho uniform – to go along with four rebounds and a pair of assists. Sahar entered the game having made just 1-of-18 three-point attempts this season, but she would proceed to knock down 4-of-7 against the Lions, including three over the final 16 minutes.

"It was good to see Tal playing in rhythm and not rushing things," Henrickson said. "I told her, throw the ball inside and go to the offensive glass. Her effort on the offensive glass was much better tonight. It was good to see her play with a little more confidence."

UCSB's 33-point second half was its second-highest scoring half through four games, outscoring the visitors 33-32 over the final 20 minutes. The Gauchos similarly put up 34 second half points in a comeback effort in their only other home game against Cal State Bakersfield 10 days prior.

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