Simply put, this was one for the ages.
The #17 UCSB women’s basketball team took #4 LSU to three overtimes to decide the outcome of Saturday night’s non-conference affair. Unfortunately, the high-flying Tigers, who have won 18 straight at home and are undefeated this season at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, outlasted the Gauchos 94-90 in one of the best games this season in women’s college basketball.
In just its second three-OT game in school history, Santa Barbara dropped to 18-4 overall and snapped its seven-game winning streak in the process.
The back and forth nature also showed up in the stat box. Like a slinky, the game exhibited 14 lead changes and16 ties, including one at halftime, the end of regulation and at the conclusion of the first and second overtimes. Hampered by foul trouble for most of the way, UCSB managed to hang in the game without junior center Lindsay Taylor, who fouled out with 3:28 left to play in the second half. Senior guards Jess Hansen and Debby Caine also played all of overtime with four fouls. Taylor finished the game with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Near the end of regulation with time winding down and the visiting Gauchos trailing 62-60, Hansen drove the length of the court after a defensive stop to lay it in with 0.3 seconds left in the game.
In the first overtime period, the two sides fought incessantly hard to give their teams an edge. Sophomore swingman Kristen Mann scored at the 1:01 mark to put Santa Barbara ahead 68-66 in the first extra frame. After the Tigers couldn’t convert on the ensuing possession, junior forward Lisa Willett was fouled and went to the line to shoot a 1-and-1 free-throw situation. Willett missed, and LSU junior point guard Temeka Johnson drove down and excited Tiger fans with a jumper inside the key to tie the game and force a third overtime.
In overtime number two, the Tigers scorched the back of the nets and built a commanding 78-70 lead with 2:26 left to play. Hansen answered with a three-pointer and then Mann drove the baseline and hit a jumper to cut the deficit to three points and get back into the contest. Later and trailing 80-75, sophomore guard Mia Fisher scored a spectacular 12-footer and then helped the Gauchos get a stop at the other end. Santa Barbara, ready for just one last shot, dished it to Hansen who drained one of her five three-pointers with 12 seconds left remaining.
The third overtime was close throughout. UCSB led 85-84 with 2:46 to play but LSU stormed back and put up a 5-0 run to snag the momentum back. Trailing 89-88 with 43 second remaining, Santa Barbara was forced to foul and the rest was history.
Mann led Santa Barbara in its highest scoring game of the year with a career-high 27 points and 12 rebounds. But it was Hansen’s big shots that propelled the Gauchos over the weekend swing across the nation. As a result, the captain of this year’s squad was voted co-Big West Player of the Week for games in which she didn’t compete against a single conference opponent. Hansen nailed a season-high 23 points against LSU and tallied 14 in a win over Illinois on Thursday evening in Champaign, Ill.
The Gauchos resume Big West play this week when they host rival Cal Poly at the Thunderdome at 7 p.m. Thursday.