Saturday was a night of redemption for the UCSB women?s basketball team, which was playing its second game in the Lady Griz Holiday Classic in Missoula, Mont.
After an uninspired effort in Friday’s loss to host Montana, UCSB rallied Saturday to defeat Mississippi, 74-66. It was the Gauchos’ final game before Big West Conference play begins next week.
With the win, the Gauchos split the pair of games on their mini road trip and fixed a few of the things that went wrong a day earlier.
UCSB head coach Mark French broke out a new starting lineup, with Meagan Williams opening the game on the floor after her 28-point performance Friday. Chisa Ononiwu, who was scoreless a day earlier, was not in the starting five.
French?s maneuvering seemed to work, as Ononiwu came off the bench to lead the Gauchos in scoring with 16 points on eight of 13 shots. She also grabbed six rebounds and handed out two assists.
Also, a night after Montana?s post players had their way with the Gauchos, Kat Suderman responded by shooting seven for nine from the field for 15 points. Her seven rebounds also tied a season high. The Gauchos will need to get production from Suderman after losing center Jenna Green for the season.
UCSB started slowly again, as Ole Miss’ trapping half-court defense pushed the Rebels out to a 6-0 lead. The Gauchos picked it up five minutes in, however, and after Lauren Pedersen hit a pair of shots, plus a layup from Jessica Wilson, UCSB had a 9-8 lead and never trailed again.
Leading by nine at halftime, the Gauchos opened the second half with an 11-6 run to take a 48-32 lead. UCSB hung tough the rest of the way, dominating the boards and out-rebounding Ole Miss by eight.
With the win, UCSB improves to 5-8 on the year and looks to continue its dominance of the Big West. The Gauchos will be trying to win their 12th title in 13 years when they begin conference play Thursday at Long Beach State.