Big West-perfect UCSB is latest challenge

Eric Gonzalez

The Matadors are putting out the welcome mat for the Big West Conference-leading Gauchos, but to win they will have to pull the rug out from underneath them.

The Matadors had a rough game on Saturday against UC Irvine, but were able to get back into it with the help of senior guard Ashley Blake.

Blake had a 19-point night against the Anteaters. Of those 19, 15 came from beyond the three-point line. Blake said that her confidence came from a halftime phrase from Head Coach Staci Schulz.

‘Coach told us we weren’t playing at our level,’ Blake said. ‘Once she said ‘let it rip,’ I knew I could keep shooting and not worry about her getting upset.’

For Schulz, it didn’t make sense because they were shooting so well in warm-ups and they haven’t had a problem scoring so far this season.

‘I just told them to ‘let it rip’ and Ashley did that in the second half,’ Schulz said.

A problem that the Matadors had late in the game was rebounding and keeping players out of the paint.

‘We let them start too deep in the paint and our help side defense wasn’t efficient,’ Schulz said.

The Matadors will need to fix that if they are going to beat a Gaucho team that has forwards who average around 6-3 in height. The Matadors’ tallest starter is Jasmine Erving, who stands at 6-2.

Schulz doesn’t think size will be a problem, even though they will be outsized at every position.

‘Santa Barbara is a methodical team,’ she said. ‘They read defense well and they play solid ‘D’.’

To beat the Gauchos Schulz plans on pressing a lot.

On the subject of pressing, Blake said that they would need to go at them with a lot of energy.

As long as the Matadors play smarter, play the same offense they have, make the right reads and keep the passes low, they should have a good shot at winning, Schulz said.