The UC Santa Barbara women’s basketball team wrapped up the decade for Gaucho sports and its own non-conference slate with a 72-57 victory over Ottawa University of Arizona on Monday night at the Thunderdome.
UCSB worked its way to a 42-23 lead during the first half thanks to the play of redshirt senior guard Coco Miller’s eight assists, tying her single-game career-high in just 20 minutes. That figure was reached on the last shot of the second quarter, after redshirt senior guard Tal Sahar received a pass from Miller on the left wing and buried a three to put the Gauchos up by 19 at the half.
The visitors would slowly chip away at Santa Barbara’s large lead, outscoring the Gauchos by five in the third quarter and continuing to find shots in the fourth.
Following a make from Sahar that put the Gauchos up by 18, Ottawa cut the lead to 9 with 5:04 left.
The hosts were able to get the lead back up to double-digits and were able to protect it and roll to a 72-57 win, the fifth of the season.
Coco Miller finished the game with a career-high 14 assists, shattering her previous high of eight, which she achieved in March’s Big West Tournament opening round matchup at UC Irvine.
Prior to the game, she was presented with a commemorative basketball by head coach Bonnie Henrickson and her coaching staff in recognition of scoring the 1,000th point of her career in the game against Pacific on December 5.
“She can play one through four. She does it all the time. She’ll say ‘I’ll play the one, the two, the three,’ whatever. Players like that, and we’re fortunate to have her, you can’t put a value on all the little things they can do,” said Henrickson after the game.
Freshman center Ila Lane secured yet another double-double, her eighth of the season, with a 20 point, 13 rebound performance. Fellow freshman forward Nyalam Thabach nearly had a double-double of her own, scoring nine points and bringing down 12 boards.
“That was a tough one. That was hard, she got a lot of pressure on shots in the paint and on the offensive glass but effort was good, and certainly we’ve been fortunate enough to rely on that,” added the Gauchos’ fifth-year head coach on Lane’s performance.
The Gauchos take on Cal State Fullerton in their Big West Conference opener on Thursday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Thunderdome.