“Come on, get the ball up in the air,” said Stan Parrish, an enthused fan and the father of Leah Parrish as she missed another free throw. After an injury plagued January, Parrish found reason for his frustrations — the UCSC women’s basketball team has suffered five losses out of eight games in January, following an early 11–4 run.
Sophomore forward Sarah Mackey’s kidney infection and Geena Giovannetti’s injured toe are two factors that damaged team chemistry in the loss to Menlo. While Giovannetti was out only for the Menlo Park game, Mackey’s been out since December.
“She’s our best player,” sophomore guard Giovannetti said of Mackey. Mackey is eleventh in the nation in blocks and despite missing almost a month worth of games, still averages 11.7 points a game.
Though not a starter, Giovannetti provides energetic movement toward the basket. She sustained an injured toe in a Jan. 20 game, which caused her discomfort in going up for lay-ups.
“I’d jump and come down on one leg,” she said.
Menlo scored 75 against UC Santa Cruz’s 45 on Jan. 23. The sitting Giovannetti said that the team’s defense lacked intensity with the loss of their pivot point, Sarah Mackey.
She also explained that the offense lacked movement toward the basket, with players consistently settling for three point shots. “It was just too many shots to the outside, not enough aggressive inward movement.”
Coach Todd Kent mentioned that this loss was unexpected for the team. “The team just did not play very hard,” he said. “This is rare for the team.”
On the weekend following the Menlo loss, Giovannetti and Mackey rallied back to health in order to play against against La Verne on Jan. 26, in a very fast-paced affair that ended in a 104–97 win for UCSC.
“It wasn’t like a real basketball game. It was like a track meet,” said Giovannetti of the fast-paced game.
Junior co-captain Ryane Ortiz found the La Verne’s game to be a strange predicament for the normally slower and defensive Slugs.
“La Verne’s style is completely against our own, focusing only on quick scoring and no concern about defense. So we decided we were going to beat them at their own game, and show them that defense does matter in basketball,” Ortiz said.
Mackey scored 33 and swatted 8 blocks in her first game back against La Verne. She played a total of 19 minutes in that game, but was unable to play in the game the next day against Cal Lutheran.
The game against Cal Lutheran was a close loss on Jan. 27, ending 56–49.
Kent believes his team has shown resilience despite losing one of their captains this season.
“All the players bring a certain skill set. We’ve played without Sarah Mackey lately and the kids have really stepped up,” Kent said.