Santa Barbara, CA -- The Thunderdome in UCSB was by no means packed for this game, but with the energy of these two teams, you would have never noticed. Being home for the first time in two weeks definitely brought more energy to the Gauchos and their fans.
UCSB's Makala Roper dominated the first quarter for the Gauchos. Roper got this to an 18-point game in the first quarter alone with help from teammate Onome Jemerigbe.
Roper and her teammates were not afraid to shoot the threes, and with good reason, they made six in just the first quarter.
UCSB's head coach Bonnie Hendrickson says, "We're unselfish, we share the ball, we drive and kick and recognize if nobody on the floor has a better shot then it's my shot."
Cal State Fullerton's Michelle Berry tried to salvage the first quarter for the Titans, but Roper sealed it with a shot at 28-10.
The Titans held strong going into the second quarter, Berry putting her first three on the board followed by shots from Dhanyel Johnson and Jade Vega. Numerous times Berry worked to slow down Santa Barbara and get her team back into the game, however she continued to run into another Gaucho draining a three, extending the lead.
This quarter started to slow down toward the end where there were a lot of missed shots, but Coco Miller came in hot for UCSB with a three and, of course, Roper ended the first half with a three, 46-25.
The whole gym could see that Roper was fire behind the arc, but she gave a humble response when asked what her key to success was. "Attacking and getting the easy shots, not forcing it and letting the game come to me."
Her humble answer compared to a very popular name in the basketball community, Steph Curry. When he happens to light up another team with his threes, he doesn't brag, much like Roper did tonight. Individually she had the same amount of threes as the entire Cal State Fullerton team, that says something in itself, along with a personal run of 7-0 during the first half. Letting the game come to her allowed her to drain threes from all over the court.
What made Roper's performance even more enjoyable wasn't just her shooting ability, she was all over the court. She led the team in rebounding with five, (Jasmine Ware also had five) got one assist on the night and capped it all off with six assist. Yes her teammates were able to find her, however she too was able to find them. Her ability to be an all around player definitely flashed tonight.
Following the theme of the night, Miller kicked off the second half with a three for UCSB followed by another later in the quarter. The old saying goes "if it isn't broke, don't fix it," so it only made sense the Gauchos continue where they left off in the first half; draining threes.
UCSB was able to hold their 20-point lead over the Titans for the majority of the third quarter, until Fullerton's Berry made a free throw after an official's call that sounded like the whole gym disagreed with.
The Gauchos did not let the call set them back, they were up by 20 after all, and Roper bumped that 20 to a 30-point lead with yet another three.
UCSB finished off the third quarter with double Fullerton's score, 68-34. Home sweet home it was for the Gauchos, not giving the Titans any chance to get back into the game entering the fourth quarter. They got the lead and never let up which any team should do when they get a big lead on their opponent.
Disoline Lopez kicked off the fourth quarter with a three-pointer, before the quarter began to seem a bit slower than the rest of the game.
The Gauchos finished off the Titans 79-49. If you want to talk about a team effort, tonight's game displayed that. Whereas the Titans only had seven assist on the night, UCSB had 27! Whenever a team has that many assist, they're going to be hard to beat. Onnome Jemerigbe led her team with 11 assist on the night, posting a career-high.
The Titans are set to play UC Davis on Saturday, February 6th in Fullerton continuing Big West play. Also, on February 6th, the Gauchos will host Hawaii's Rainbow Wahine in the Thunderdome.