The UCSB women’s basketball team’s hopes of a postseason berth were shattered on Tuesday night after being upset at home 49-45 by Pacific in the first round of the Big West tournament. UCSB, the second seed in the tournament, led by 14 points with over 15 minutes left in the second half, but went on to score only six points the rest of the game.
With the win, the Tigers improve to 9-21 on the season. They face top-seeded Cal Poly in the second round of the on Friday. With the loss, UCSB’s (19-11) postseason hopes are all but shattered.
“I wish I could take away the feeling that [the players] have; I wish I could take away the hurt,” Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “I’m devastated that I don’t get to wake up tomorrow and practice with this team.”
In perhaps her last game in a UCSB uniform, senior forward Mekia Valentine had another double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds, and was the only Gaucho to score in double figures. Valentine received two quick fouls and had to deal with a physical Pacific team all night.
“I think come tournament time, everyone is physical,” Valentine said. “They really turned it on tonight.”
Junior guard Emilie Johnson was held to five points on 2-11 shooting, while senior forward Margaret Johnson scored six points and pulled down nine rebounds.
After extending their lead to 14 with 15:21 left in the game, the Gauchos became stagnant on offense, shooting 3-19 and committing 10 of their 14 turnovers from that point on.
“The ball was not going into the hoop,” Emilie Johnson said. “They had the energy and the momentum and we just couldn’t get things clicking, and I put that on myself as a point guard.”
The Gauchos shot only 33 percent from the free-throw line while shooting 34 percent from the field.
Tiger sophomore forward Kendall Rodriguez led Pacific with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore guard Erica McKenzie had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Freshman forward Danielle Peacon scored 11 for the Tigers and battled Valentine down low all game.
“She is a very good player,” Valentine said. “Her size really helps her out a lot. She just really wanted it very bad.”
UCSB could still be invited to the WNIT postseason tournament, and will automatically receive a bid if Cal Poly wins the Big West conference tournament. This puts the Gauchos in the unusual position of rooting for their rivals.
“I think this is a team that has made ourselves good enough for postseason and hopefully we will get to play in postseason,” Gottlieb said.
Now, the Gauchos must wait and see what unfolds in the rest of the Big West tournament down in Anaheim after their shocking loss to Pacific.
“I think it comes down to Pacific played a great game and we didn’t show up, we didn’t play a great game,” Johnson said. “We’re not going to make excuses, but we could have done a whole lot better.”