All streaks must come to an end.
The University of the Pacific snapped the #21 UCSB women’s basketball team’s string of 31 straight victories over opponents from the Big West on Saturday night by handing the Gauchos a devastating 74-65 defeat in the Alex G. Spanos Center.
The Tigers (5-10 overall, 2-2 in the Big West) ended the Gauchos six-game win streak and dropped the defending conference champions to an 11-3 overall mark and 4-1 in league play. Saturday night’s defeat marked just the sixth time that a team from the Big West upended the Gauchos since the 1995-1996 season.
“They came out ready to play and were really prepared for us,” junior center Lindsay Taylor said. “But then again, they had one of the best shooting nights in school history and we didn’t play well at all.”
After the Tigers lost a one-point match in the 2002 Big West Championships in Anaheim to the Gauchos, the women from Stockton have dreamt of redemption and a shot to advance to the NCAA Tournament ever since their heartbreaking loss. UOP came out with purpose in the opening frame on Saturday evening, holding the Gauchos without a field goal for the first 6:17. The Gauchos trailed Pacific by a 28-23 deficit going into the locker room, in need of some retooling. Santa Barbara stormed out to a 9-1 run in the second half after senior guard Jess Hansen capped the stretch with a three-pointer in the corner to put the Gauchos ahead 32-29 with 16:57 to go in the game. UOP answered the challenge by holding UCSB scoreless over the next five minutes, nailing in the coffin and letting them know about it.
“They didn’t show us any respect,” Taylor said. “They have nothing to be cocky about. They thought it was the NCAA Tournament or something out there.”
Santa Barbara shot itself in the foot, believing it let one get away by its own doing. For the third time this season, UCSB couldn’t manage to win the battle of the boards. In all three instances, including Pacific’s 36-29 rampage under the basket, the Gauchos have lost the game after being defeated on the glass.
Foul trouble hampered UCSB all night long, limiting their mobility on offense and forcing the tentative play of post players such as Taylor, and sophomore forwards Brandy Richardson and Haddy Sarr. Three Gauchos fouled out and four players posted four fouls, one away from hitting the showers early.
“When anyone from our team gets into foul trouble it messes up so many things for our team,” sophomore guard Mia Fisher said after posting a career-high 19 points on 6-12 shooting. “Especially with our season going so well, teams like Pacific and others from the Big West are going to recognize that we are the team to beat.”
Santa Barbara’s usual stars didn’t shine brightly against Pacific. Richardson, the team’s leading rebounder, pulled down just two boards and went 1-4 from the field for just two points. Taylor attempted just four shots, nailing three of them, and played only 27 minutes before fouling out.
The Gauchos are still awaiting the return of one of their best players from injury, sophomore guard Kristen Mann. Mann has practiced recently, but her status for her return to game action is still uncertain.