After losing to UC Riverside Thursday, the UCSB women’s basketball team returned to form Saturday night, defeating Cal St. Fullerton 59-52. The Gauchos forced Fullerton into turning the ball over on 19 occasions, and for much of the game, the Titans struggled against Santa Barbara’s defense.
With the road win, UCSB moves to 9-13 overall and remains at 5th in the Big West at 6-5 in conference play. Redshirt senior Drew Edelman continues to play a huge role for the Gauchos, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 boards against the Titans Saturday night. Edelman notched her third straight double-double in the victory and is averaging a dominant 23.33 points and 11 rebounds over the last three contests.
While Santa Barbara held its single-game losing streak for roughly 48 hours, Fullerton was handed its seventh loss in a row. The Titans, at 7-16 overall and 2-8 in conference, are 8th place in Big West standings; however, they’re in a better position than last year when they finished 4-25 overall and just 1-15 in the Big West. Fortunately for Fullerton, the Titans will have a chance at redemption when they visit the Thunderdome Thursday of this week to take on Santa Barbara again.
UCSB opened Saturday night’s game with a slow and steady first quarter in which Fullerton was held to only 7 points. While the Titans got on the board first with Daeja Smith layup, Edelman answered with a bucket of her own.
Edelman’s bucket led to another for the 6’4 forward, then shots by Sarah Bates, Drea Toler, and Aliceah Hernandez fell for a 10-0 run over nearly 8 minutes. With 2:06 to go in the quarter, the Titans finally got a basket, a three, but Edelman again answered to make it 12-5 with 1:11 left.
After two free throws by the Fullerton’s China Henderson put the Titans within 5, Sarah Bates sunk a three of her own to close out the quarter, UCSB leading 15-7. Shooting 2 of 13 and registering 8 turnovers in the quarter, the Titans had plenty to improve on heading into the second quarter.
Using a 5-0 run to start the quarter, the Titans cut the Santa Barbara lead to 3 before the Gauchos got a bucket from none other than Edelman at the 6:47 mark.
Edelman’s jumper sparked a 12-0 run by the Gauchos to take a 27-12 lead just under the five-minute mark. With 3:27 to go, Sarah Bates hit her second three of the quarter for the Gauchos’ last score of the half.
Bates finished the game with 12 points and 5 rebounds to accompany Edelman in double figures for the third straight game. The Titans closed out the quarter behind a Hannah Thompson layup and Triann Thompson jumper, with both teams failing to score in the last 2 and a half minutes of the half.
Edelman got the second half of play rolling with back to back baskets, giving the Gauchos their largest lead of the game, 36-18. Fullerton answered with an 11-2 run, forcing Santa Barbara to take a timeout at the 4:14 mark as their 18 point lead was diminished to 9.
Following the timeout, Titan Jade Vega drained a three to make it 38-32, but a three by Hernandez and then Makala Roper with 7 seconds left allowed Santa Barbara to keep a 9-point lead, 47-38, heading into the final ten minutes of play. Hannah Thompson had 8 of her team-high 13 points in the third for Fullerton, while Edelman had 8 for the Gauchos.
The fourth quarter saw UCSB go through a scoring drought that lasted over half the quarter before Edelman got a layup to fall with only 4:21 to go. The Titans were busy during Santa Barbara’s dry stretch, putting together a 7-0 run.
After Edelman’s basket, a Triann Thompson three-ball put the Titans within a single point, down only 49-48 with four minutes left. Roper got UCSB up 51-48 with a layup, but two more jumpers by Fullerton gave the Titans the 52-51 lead with 2:28 remaining, forcing a Gaucho timeout.
Despite an amazing comeback by the Titans to take the lead, Fullerton failed to score following UCSB’s timeout. The Gauchos closed out the game using yet another Edelman bucket and enough made free throws to pull out the 59-52 victory.
The exciting finish will make for an interesting rematch on Thursday when UCSB will host the Titans at 7 p.m. at the Thunderdome.