For the first time since the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, the UCSB women’s basketball team has won back-to-back Big West Tournament games. Following their first-round bye, the Gauchos earned an 81-71 victory over UC Riverside in Wednesday’s quarterfinal matchup.
The win is UCSB’s first in the quarterfinal round since 2013. For the second time this season, since its first meeting against UC Irvine, UCSB shot 50 percent overall and from behind the three-point line.
Setting a Big West Tournament record for most three-pointer made at nine was redshirt sophomore guard Sarah Porter. She finished with a career and game-high 31 points, and set a career-high with the nine made three-pointers. Porter attempted and made each of her field goals from beyond the arc, going 9-of-11 from the field.
The nine made three-pointers also set a new program single-game record, surpassing former Gaucho Erin Alexander’s previous mark of eight.
UCSB has made at least eight three-pointers in four consecutive games.
Porter scored 20 of her 31 points in the first quarter. Whether when coming off screens, off the dribble or even contested, Porter’s hot shooting hand was consistent as she made 6-of-6 three-pointers and two free-throws in the game’s first 10 minutes.
Balancing Porter’s three-point shooting was redshirt junior forward Drew Edelman with a dominant performance in the paint. For a third time this season, Edelman tied her career-high of 22 points. Also, Edelman’s game-high 14 rebounds led to her tallying her eighth double-double of the season.
Signs of Porter’s career night began with her scoring the game’s first basket form long range. From that point on, both teams exchanged scores. Responding on UCR’s behalf was Malou Thiebaut De Kergret with a made three-pointer to give the Highlanders a 10-8 lead. The sophomore forward had 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting before fouling out later on.
The one-point deficit was the last time UCSB trailed before responding with a 15-0 run. Sparking the run was Porter with her third-straight three-pointer at the 4:53 mark of the first. The Gauchos’ lead increased from a layup by redshirt junior point guard Drea Toler to 23-10, leading to UCR calling a timeout as it had been held scoreless for a little over five minutes.
Toler concluded Wednesday night with 13 points, eight assists, and two steals.
Breaking the Highlanders’ scoring slump was a jumpshot by junior guard Michelle Curry. Junior guard Lauren Holt scored on UCR’s next possession to cut their deficit to single digits at 14-23.
But another three-pointer by Porter in the final five second of the first quarter gave UCSB a 26-14 lead.
Despite being down to start the second quarter, Curry took matters into her own hands, embarking on an individual 8-2 run that cut UCSB’s lead to 28-22. She scored 11 of her team-high 22 points in the period.
Although Riverside managed to contain Porter’s perimeter shooting during the quarter, holding her to just one missed shot attempt, UCSB responded with a 7-2 run of its own. The scoring stretch built its lead to 35-24.
UCR cut the Gaucho’s lead to a five-point deficit three times during the period as a made free-throw by Curry left the Highlanders down 37-42 entering halftime.
UCSB ended the game with a 40-26 advantage in both rebounds and points in the paint. The outcome of both values led to Edelman’s big night, which picked up at the start of the second half as she scored the Gauchos first six points of the third.
Still, the Highlanders continued to claw away at Santa Barbara’s lead. After Curry’s jumpshot brought UCR within three at 48-51 before a layup by UCSB’s Toler, Kergret knocked down a three-pointer on Riverside’s next possession that resulted in a 51-53 deficit with 4:49 remaining in the third.
As UCSB was in a position of possibly losing its lead, emerging was Porter from beyond the arc to give it a 56-51 lead. Igniting the Gaucho’s 11-4 run to end the period was a three-pointer by freshman guard Aliceah Hernandez. Toler scored the team’s last field goal with a layup, helping UCSB enter the fourth with a 67-59 lead.
Similar to how the game began, Edelman and Porter scored UCSB’s first points in the game’s final period to put the Gauchos up 72-61.
Porter scored her coveted ninth three-pointer of the game with 5:18 remaining, giving UCSB a 77-63 lead. Both teams would end up trading baskets and taking trips to the free-throw line with Edelman scoring the Gauchos’ last field goal of the game to eventually lock up their victory.
UCSB will face UC Davis this Friday, March 10 in the semifinal round of the Big West Tournament at noon. ESPN3 will provide coverage of the game.