By Toan P. Do
Sports Reporter

The UC Santa Cruz women’s basketball team played a close and physical game against Dominican University last Tuesday, Nov. 25, but ultimately fell short, losing by a score of 67-57.

“Basically we just need to learn how good we are … and we are really good,” senior shooting guard Kayleigh Calandri said. “We are deeper than anyone else we play, and that’s just a lesson for all of us.”

The Slugs got off to a slow start offensively, letting Dominican score 13 unanswered points before scoring their first. After that first point, the Slugs made a run of their own in the first quarter, scoring 14 points to lead by one. This would be one of the only leads they enjoyed for the night as it mostly became a game of catch-up.

Both teams played hard and physically as battles for rebounds resulted in fouls on both sides. The Slugs’ youth and lack of experience showed in this game when they hurt themselves with sloppy passes, turnovers, and sporadic defense. At one point the Slugs were forced to turn the ball over because the referee noticed Calandri’s un-tucked shirt.

“I think our defensive intensity [is a priority],” said sophomore center Lydia Andrews. “We really need to want to play defense. I know a lot of players look at the NBA and the commercialization of basketball and they just want to score and get those double-doubles, but you have to keep your player from scoring and I think that’s our biggest thing. I feel like very few people on our team get the satisfaction they should out of playing defense. We just have to hold defense on a higher pedestal than we do right now.”

One noticeable improvement was the team’s field goal percentage, which was not solid in the first couple of games, according to head coach Nikki Turner. Calandri was particularly effective with catch-and-shoot plays, making Dominican pay almost every time she touched the ball.

In her fifth season as head coach, Turner foresees great potential in her young team. Ten of the 14 players are either freshmen or sophomores.

“We are a lot deeper than we’ve ever been and we definitely work really hard,” Turner said. “We have three starting freshman point guards and two coming off the bench that play a lot of minutes. So it looks good, but you can tell as the next few weeks get going I think we will get stronger.”

Following their loss to Dominican, the Slugs won back-to-back games in Pomona over Thanksgiving weekend. Currently, their Division III record is 3-1 with great potential to pull in more wins throughout the season.

“The biggest improvement we need to make is to have confidence in ourselves first and foremost,” Calandri said. “Other than that, everything is there. I mean, obviously there are little things here and there that we can improve on but for us, the biggest thing is to be confident in ourselves and come into a gym knowing how good we are and showing that on the floor.”