Gauchos Drop Big West Conference Opener at CSUN

Natalia Bruening (Photo by Jeilo Gauna)
Natalia Bruening (Photo by Jeilo Gauna)

NORTHRIDGE, Calif.- The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team opened up Big West Conference play on Saturday evening with a 73-65 loss to Cal State Northridge to fall to 0-1 in Big West play and 3-11 on the season. The Gauchos fed off of Natalia Bruening's 19 points from her battle against Channon Fluker in the post, but the Matadors struck quickly to get off to an early 5-0 lead and stayed in front from the get-go.

"She did a good job with her non-shooting hand to give herself some space against Fluker. She got good looks early and you could tell she got a little more confident," Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson said.

While the Matadors' Fluker, a two-time Big West Conference MVP, was expected to be the most dangerous threat to UCSB entering the matchup, it was sophomore guard Destiny Brooks who delivered 3-5 from deep out of the gate in the first half en route to a 14-point night.

In the second half, the Gauchos got rolling early as Coco Miller and Danae Miller scored the first three Gaucho baskets, all of them three-pointers.

As the third quarter rolled on, CSUN continued to extend their lead and were up 57-41 heading into the fourth quarter. A layup by Bruening and three-pointers from Tal Sahar and Danae Miller cut down the CSUN lead to 10, but the Matadors' early success proved too much to overcome as they saw out the game and won 73-65.

"I thought we battled. I thought we played hard and our energy was good. Every time we called a timeout to stop the bleeding we did, but we didn't chip into their lead enough down the stretch," Henrickson said of the Gauchos' performance in the game.

The Gauchos take on the Cal Poly Mustangs in a renewal of the Blue-Green rivalry next Saturday in San Luis Obispo at 2:00 p.m.