Ila Lane scores in traffic. She finished with 13 points and six rebounds. | Credit: JEFF LIANG

A hot start wasn’t enough for the UCSB women’s basketball team to hold off No. 15 ranked UCLA.

The Bruins clawed back from a 20-4 deficit at the end of the first quarter to claim a 68-57 victory on Saturday night at the Thunderdome.

“I’m proud of the toughness and confidence we came out with,” said UCSB coach Bonnie Hendrickson. “We just battled and defended. We got good shots, got good looks and then they started making a run in the second quarter.”

Alyssa Marin came out firing for UCSB. She scored eleven first quarter points, including a buzzer beater that put the Gauchos ahead 20-4.

Alyssa Marin shoots over Charisma Osborne. | Credit: Jeff Liang

“It was an amazing experience to play against UCLA and honestly my teammates, I have to give a shout out to them for getting me open, and just driving and kicking the ball to me. It was really good,” Marin said. “I feel like we were really attacking them and attacking the ball so I got to get some open shots.”

UCSB shot 57 percent from the field in the first quarter and held the Bruins to 12.5 percent. Defensive intensity and shot making were integral to the Gauchos’ early success. The wave of momentum the Gauchos came out with completely overwhelmed the Bruins.

“I never thought we panicked. We weren’t playing very well and I thought we really needed to do a much better job of letting defense be our anchor, but we found a way to get the job done,” said UCLA coach Cori Close, who has extensive ties to UCSB as an alum, former player and assistant coach. “Credit to Bonnie and her team. They’re a good team. They are 5-1 for a reason and they do a nice job. I thought they played to their identity in the first quarter.”

UCLA opened the second quarter on a 9-2 run to cut its deficit to 22-13 on an offensive rebound and put back by sensational freshman Kiki Rice, but the Gauchos did not give in. Jessica Grant knocked down one of her four three-pointers to put UCSB ahead 25-13 with 6:21 remaining in the second quarter.

The two teams went back and forth until halftime as UCSB took a 33-25 lead into the locker room.

UCLA opened the third quarter on a 14-3 run, capped off by a Emily Bessoir three-pointer with 6:53 remaining in the third quarter that gave the Bruins their first lead, 39-36,  since they led 2-0 in the opening moments of the game.

Grant immediately evened the score at 39-39 with a three-pointer of her own and a basket inside allowed UCSB to retake the lead, 44-43, with 2:15 remaining in the third quarter, but UCSB could not withstand the Bruins’ onslaught throughout. A Charisma Osborne three-pointer with one second remaining in the third quarter gave UCLA a 48-44 lead that they would not relinquish.

“Definitely they’re physicality level, they just kept hitting us harder and harder each quarter and that’s when we started slipping a little bit,” said Marin of the most difficult part of maintaining a lead over UCLA. “For the future we really want to learn from this and just try to compete with that physicality and just keep working hard because at the end of the day that’s something we can control.”

Marin was reunited on the court with her high school teammate at Camarillo Gabriela Jaquez, who scored 12 points off the bench that gave UCLA a significant lift. 

UCLA (8-1) outscored UCSB 20-13 in the fourth quarter to pull away. Ila Lane was effective inside for UCSB. She finished with 13 points and six rebounds. 

The Gauchos (5-2) will travel to Cal Baptist Saturday for a 1 p.m. tip.

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