The #15 UCSB women’s basketball team has found a knack for making games exciting.
Led by senior center Lindsay Taylor’s 20 points, the Gauchos rallied from eight points down, with 15 minutes to go, to defeat Illinois 70-59 on Nov. 28 at the Thunderdome. With the win, Santa Barbara extended their home-win streak to 27 games – the second longest in the nation behind top-ranked Connecticut.
UCSB (4-1) ran out to a 8-0 lead over the Illini on the help of two three-pointers from senior guard April McDivitt. The lead wouldn’t last long for the Gauchos, as the Illini responded and jumped out to a 12-11 lead. Illinois took a 32-30 lead into halftime with the help of a 46.7 shooting percentage from the field.
Illinois (1-2) continued to dominate Santa Barbara at the start of the second half, scoring five straight points to start the half. Illinois built a 46-38 lead with 15 minutes to go, and threatened to spoil the Gauchos’ Thanksgiving weekend.
But UCSB responded as Taylor scored seven points during the Gauchos 19-4 run that spanned over 10 minutes. Illinois went cold from the field, managing only one field goal in the remaining five minutes as Santa Barbara steamrollered to another home win.
Four Gauchos finished with double digits in scoring for the game. McDivitt finished with 16 points – her highest total as a member of Santa Barbara. Junior forward Kristen Mann finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds for her second double-double of the year and junior guard Mia Fisher contributed 12 points and three rebounds.
Santa Barbara held Illinois to only 30 percent shooting from the field in the second half, while forcing the Illini into 18 turnovers in the game. Guard Tiffanie Guthrie led the way for Illinois with a team-high 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and forward Aminata Yanni added 15 points and seven rebounds.
For her efforts, Taylor earned Big West Player of the Week honors, averaging 21.5 points per game in UCSB’s two wins over #21 Arizona and Illinois. It is the first time Taylor has won the honor this year and the seventh time in her career. Only three other players in Big West history have won more than Taylor.
The Gauchos now get a two-week break before traveling to Florida on Dec. 14 to play the Gators in Gainesville. Santa Barbara then travels to Cincinnati two days later to play the Bearcats before playing #7 Purdue on Dec. 19 in West Lafayette, Ind.