SANTA BARBARA, Calif. ?- The Arizona women’s basketball team fell under .500 for the first time this season with an 86-63 loss to UC Santa Barbara at the Thunderdome tonight. The Wildcats are now 4-5 on the year.
Arizona managed just 36 percent from the field, 27 percent from beyond the arc and 69 percent from the free throw line on the game. The Gauchos connected on 45 percent from the field, 50 percent from downtown and 68 percent from the charity stripe. UCSB also out-rebounded the Wildcats 43 to 37 and was the first team all season to force Arizona into more turnovers, 19 to 13.
“We’ve got to pull ourselves out of this and start playing smart basketball,” Head Coach Joan Bonvicini said. “We need some leadership on the court. We’re not playing with a lot of confidence. It’s not really the other team that’s beating us. We’re beating ourselves. When a team starts to make a run, we don’t have a person that will grab everyone and say, ?'Hey, we need to stop this.’”
Sophomore Ashley Whisonant led the team with 15 points, followed by sophomore Ch?© Oh with 10. Junior Linda Pace, who fouled out of the game, finished with nine points. Freshman Whitney Fields led the team with eight rebounds.
Arizona missed its first seven shots, going scoreless for nearly the first five minutes of the game, and quickly found itself trailing 16-4. The Wildcats’ shooting woes continued throughout the half, as Arizona was only able to connect on 28 percent of its shots.
UC Santa Barbara, which led by as many as 16 (37-21), shot 45 percent from the field. Free throws kept the Wildcats in the game, as 13 of their 27 points came at the line. The Gauchos edged Arizona on the boards, 20 to 19.
Oh, Whisonant and Fields each scored six points for Arizona. Fields and Pace pulled down five rebounds each on the half.
Arizona opened the second half on a 9-2 run to make it a five-point game (41-36), but UCSB answered with a 16-4 run to put the game away for good. The Wildcats cut it to 12 on a Natalie Jones three-pointer, but that was as close as they would get as the Gauchos went on to the 86-63 win.
Arizona opens Pac-10 play against instate rival Arizona State at 7 p.m. this Thursday, Dec. 22. Fans are encouraged to wear red for the Rivalry Red-Out. Free rally towels will be handed out courtesy of Pepsi (limited availability, while supplies last).