On a map, a first-round matchup in Fresno seemed like nothing more than home game away from home, but the confines of the Save Mart Center were anything but accommodating to the Gaucho shooters.

The #13 seeded Gauchos, who went dancing for the ninth consecutive time after earning the Big West’s automatic berth, struggled to find an offensive rhythm against #4 seed Notre Dame and consequently saw their season end with a 61-51 loss.

“It was one of those nights when [senior forward] Kristen [Mann] wasn’t shooting. As with everything, it’s hard not to ride the horses that got you here,” UCSB Head Coach Mark French said. “Notre Dame did a great job.”

Mann, a two-time AP All-American Honorable Mention and the 12th-best scorer in the nation, was limited to just seven points on two-of-14 shooting. The Gauchos as a whole shot just 32.7 percent to the Fighting Irish’s 42 percent.

“We knew they were a big-time basketball team; they play rough basketball, and we struggled. I commend [Notre Dame Head Coach] Muffet McGraw,” French said. “I’m very proud of our women.”

The win was anything but easy for Notre Dame. UCSB led for the first five minutes of the game and took a 31-28 lead into halftime.

In the second half, however, a 6-1 run would give the Fighting Irish back their lead for good.

Santa Barbara would stay close to the pace, and, with 3:10 left, senior forward Brandy Richardson drew the Gauchos to within four with a finger roll. Notre Dame pulled away with an uncontested six-point run, four of which were courtesy of junior guard Megan Duffy.

Senior guard Mia Fisher’s 18 points led both sides in the scoring department, and senior forward Kate Bauman stepped up for UCSB, going 3-3 from both the stripe and the field to tally nine points. Next year, Santa Barbara will be without the prowess of Fisher, Mann, Richardson and Baumann, all of whom are graduating.

“Mia finished on a good note this weekend, especially scoring,” French said. “We’re going to miss her tremendously.”

The combination of zone defense and double-teaming Mann proved to be the determining factor in Notre Dame’s defensive success in the game.

“We went in saying that we were going to beat Fisher and Mann, and we tried to double-team Mann whenever we could. We were going to give everyone more room and then double-team Mann – and that’s what we did,” McGraw said.

Notre Dame’s leader, Big East Player of the Year senior forward Jacqueline Batteast, who averaged 33 points per game this season, had just eight points in the game, but Notre Dame had three players in double digits with both junior forward Courtney LaVere and sophomore guard Breona Gray each scoring 10.

“They had other people step up and we couldn’t get people to step up soon enough,” French said.

The Gauchos ended their season with a 21-9 record, while Notre Dame went on to play Arizona State.