The UCR women’s basketball team faced off against UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) for a second time on Feb. 27. Despite their best efforts, the Highlanders could not close out the game with a win. This was the last game of the season for the women’s basketball team.

“It was a challenging weekend. Hats off to Santa Barbara. I thought they played really well. But again, we have to have a better start. We dug ourselves in a hole again and then spent a ton of energy trying to flip that,” said Head Coach Nicole Powell.

UCR opened up the scoreboard with a solid jumper but quickly found themselves trying to stop the charge from the Gauchos. UCSB went on a 10-0 run, and UCR replied by going on a 4-0 run of their own. The Gauchos kept pressing on, gaining 3 more points before junior Lauryn Pointer could score a 3-pointer for UCR. UCSB managed to gain another 6 points, four of those from free throws. UCR managed to squeeze in another layup before UCSB shot and sank three more free throws. The scoreboard was 11-22 with 2:43 left on the timer. UCSB sank a jumper before the Highlanders made a push to close the distance in the final minutes of the quarter by going on a 7-2 run, closing out the quarter 20-26.

“We are searching and figuring out how to have a better start to the games, how to execute the game plan defensively, and we just haven’t quite been on point the way we need especially down the stretch. On the other hand, we showed great fight and resilience tonight at times. I loved seeing how we battled back,” stated Powell.

UCSB opened up the second quarter with a 5-0 run, prompting UCR to go on a 5-0 run of their own, two of those points from free throws. Both teams traded points for the following minutes. The Gauchos drove in a layup before sending UCR to the charity stripe to sink a free throw. UCSB managed to gain another 2 points, prompting the Highlanders to make a 4-point run. In an effort to stay ahead, UCSB drove in another layup and then sent UCR to the free-throw line again; both shot successfully. The score was 32-37 with under five minutes left in the half. UCSB made another push, going on a 9-2 run and closing out the half 34-46.

UCR came into the second half trying to close the gap. UCSB opened up the second half with a jumper, to which UCR replied with a 3-pointer of their own. The Gauchos were then awarded two free throws, both shot successfully. UCR was awarded two free throws of their own but only managed to make one. In the following minutes, both teams managed to gain 6 points, leaving the scoreboard 44-56 with a little over five minutes left in the third quarter. In the final stretch of the quarter, UCR managed to gain the upper hand, gaining 10 more points while UCSB gained 8. The Highlanders headed into the final quarter of the game, 54-64.

Going into the final 10 minutes of the game, the Highlanders made another effort to cut the deficit. UCR opened up the quarter with a jumper, to which UCSB replied by scoring twice, earning them 4 points. The Highlanders managed to drive in another layup, and the Gauchos replied with another 4 points, 58-72. Both teams traded layups before UCR could sink a solid 3-pointer. Both teams traded shots, each gaining 2 more points, 65-76. With a little over three minutes left in the game, UCR earned 11 more points while UCSB only gained 7. Despite winning the quarter, UCR lost Game 2, 76-83.

“No one enjoys losing. I certainly don’t, but there were some positives to this game. We will continue to build on these highs as we prepare for the tournament,” stated Powell.

UCR played a much better Game 2. They shot more field goals than their opponents but just could not find the back of the net, scoring 26-66 as opposed to UCSB’s 28-54. They also did better from the 3-point range, shooting 43% while UCSB shot at 21%. Unfortunately, their efforts were not enough to win the game.

UCR will have some time off before the Big West Post Season Tournament. “Right now, we have some bumps and bruises. We need to take some time to recover this week. We’re a little beat up, so looking forward to resting and recuperating and focus, as always, on getting better, especially as we look ahead to the tournament,” stated Powell.