November 21, 2012 4:42:12 PM
PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico -- Offensive struggles plagued the Mississippi State women's basketball team Wednesday afternoon in a 60-43 loss to the University of California, Santa Barbara at the Hardwood Tournament of Hope.
UCSB shot 60 percent in the second half to expand on a 26-20 halftime lead. The Lady Gauchos entered the game allowing 49 points per game. UCSB did even better Wednesday, holding MSU (2-3) to its lowest offensive total of the season.
MSU converted all 18 of its free throws. However, the Bulldogs shot a season-low 22.4 percent from the field, including a 3 of 14 from 3-point range.
"We didn't play well," MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. "I thought we were a half step slow today. Defensively, we played hard, but we didn't play well when you look at field goal percentage. I don't think anyone who saw us play didn't think we played hard. However, we didn't play well."
MSU scored the first six points on back-to-back 3-pointers by Kendra Grant and Jessy Ward. MSU then went better than eight minutes without hitting another field goal.
UCSB pushed ahead at 7-6 on a jumper by Destini Mason. The Lady Gauchos scored 11 straight before MSU's Martha Alwal hit a pair of free throws.
UCSB ran the lead to six points before MSU closed within two at 16-14 on a pair of free throws from Darriel Gaynor.
MSU got back within one on two free throws by Alwal with 1 minute, 35 seconds left in the half. UCSB scored the final five points of the half to take a 26-20 halftime lead.
MSU was 5 of 25 from the field, including 2-of-9 shots from 3-point range, in the first half.
"Sometimes when you have the depth problem we have, it's hard to play back to back," Schaefer said. "In this tournament, we have to play back to back to back. It's a good lesson because we will have to play back to back games again in December. It's a hard lesson. It's part of the learning process, but we'll keep teaching."
In the second half, the Bulldogs couldn't battle back from another prolonged scoring draught. UCSB scored the second half's first six points and held MSU scoreless for more than three minutes.
A 3-pointer by Sherise Williams brought MSU within 34-25. UCSB scored the next six points and extended the lead to 20 on four occasions, and 22 once.
Alwal and Grant each had 10 points for MSU. Alwal had a team-high five rebounds.
UCSB received 13 points from Sweets Underwood and Melissa Zornig. Angelei Aguirre added 11 points and Destini Mason added 10 points. Sweets had a double-double, as she also pulled down 12 rebounds, with nine of those coming on the defensive end.