The UCSB women’s basketball team came within inches of taking undefeated Cal Poly to overtime, but junior forward Kelsey Adrian’s three-pointer rattled in and out as time expired, securing a 54-51 victory for the Mustangs.
[media-credit id=20281 align=”alignleft” width=”166″][/media-credit] Victors of the Blue-Green rivalry game, Cal Poly moves to 12-7 on the season with a perfect 8-0 record in the Big West. The loss drops the Gauchos to 10-9 overall (4-3 Big West). Adrian’s shot would have extended an already thrilling and back-and-forth game.
“I was open, it felt good, and it looked good,” Adrian, who scored nine points on the night, said. “It looked like it was going in and then it popped out. There is nothing else you can do about that one.”
Junior guard Emilie Johnson led all scorers with 17 points while adding four rebounds and three assists.
“That’s what college basketball is all about: rival games,” Johnson said. “This was a great rival game. It was fun, but we’ve got to do things better. We are all competitors and we hate to lose, but the season isn’t over, and we get to play them again.”
The Gauchos got off to a quick 6-0 start before the Mustangs came back to tie the game at seven. The first half proved to be close throughout, with Cal Poly entering the half with a 27-23 lead.
After a quick score by the Mustangs, the Gauchos used 13 unanswered points, highlighted by an Adrian’s three, to take a 36-29 lead with 13 minutes remaining. Cal Poly, however, quickly roared back, taking a 42-40 lead with under nine minutes left in the game.
Cal Poly’s senior guard Rachel Clancy, who scored 15 points for the Mustangs, said the team prepared all week to face their rivals.
“We just really wanted to come down here and get a great win in the Thunderdome,” Clancy said. “It’s always a great atmosphere here. We wanted to get a great road win, because we know it’s hard to come here and play well.”
A defensive battle throughout, the Gauchos limited the Mustangs to 15 fewer points than they had averaged on the season. Senior forward Mekia Valentine grabbed 14 rebounds, while dropping seven points and blocking six shots.
“In a lot of ways, we made it our kind of game,” Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “Hopefully next time we can convert some of those stops, get out in transition and get to the basket a little more.”
UCSB shot under 36 percent from the field for the game while shooting just three of 13 from beyond the arc.
“If we are going to hold them to 54 points, we have to score more than what we did,” Gottlieb said. “There were times in the game where we were in control, but we weren’t extending the lead as much as we could have.”
Cal Poly still trails the overall series 50-16 to the Gauchos. The teams split the season series last year, each winning on their home floor. UCSB will get another crack at Cal Poly this season when it hits the road in early March to play the Mustangs in the team’s final game of the regular season.
The Gauchos will next travel to Northridge on Saturday to take on the Matadors. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.