The UCSB women’s basketball team continued to prove it is a force to be reckoned with in the Big West, as it defeated Davis in overtime to win its seventh straight game and remain undefeated in conference play.
Coming off an impressive win over Cal Poly that propelled them to the top of the Big West standings, the Gauchos (11-6 overall, 6-0 in the Big West) overcame a strong second half from the home team and earned a hard-fought 62-53 overtime victory over the Aggies (10-8, 4-2 Big West). Senior guard Jessica Wilson was the top performer for UCSB, as the Sacramento native silenced the Northern California crowd with a season-high 20 points, nine of which came in overtime, and 11 rebounds.
“It was an ugly, ugly win but one we will definitely take against a good team on their home court,” Head Coach Mark French said.
Wilson got the Gauchos going early, as she scored the first five points for the road team to take a 5-2 lead in the game’s first three minutes. Offenses for both teams stagnated for much of the first half, and a three-pointer by junior guard Lauren Pedersen gave UCSB a 13-10 lead at the 10:23 mark. Santa Barbara was able to pick it up in the last five minutes of the half, ending the period on a 14-4 run. The run was triggered by back-to-back layups from Wilson and junior guard Sha’Rae Gibbons, which gave the Gauchos their first double-digit lead at 29-19 with 1:02 left, and senior guard Chisa Ononiwu capitalized on the momentum with a steal and a fast-break jumper on the ensuing possession. A pair of free throws from Wilson with five seconds left gave her 11 points for the half and sent Santa Barbara into the locker room with a 33-21 lead.
Davis showed that it would not go quietly in the second half as free throws from Aggie senior forward Jessica Campbell capped off a 10-3 run that brought the home team to within five with 14:04 left to play. The Aggies continued to close the gap on Santa Barbara and eventually tied the game at 44 with 6:37 left. After Campbell gave Davis the lead at 47-44 with 5:31 remaining, UCSB tied the game at 48 on a layup from junior forward Whitney Warren with just under four minutes left. The Gauchos stepped up their defense and despite missing a costly rebound with 15 seconds left that gave the Aggies an opportunity for a game-winning basket, the home team could not capitalize and the teams went into overtime still tied at 48.
“I think we did a great job of keeping our composure after they made that run in the second half,” Wilson said.
Despite being outscored 27-15 in the second half, UCSB showed a great deal of resilience and was able to get the momentum back in its favor in the overtime period. Wilson was the story for the Gauchos in the extra frame, as she scored nine of her 20 points, putting Santa Barbara ahead 55-48 on a three-pointer with 2:48 left. After only scoring 15 total points in the second half, UCSB outscored the Aggies 14-5 in the overtime period and came away with a 62-53 win.
“I’m very proud of the team,” French said. “They really buckled down when they needed to, on a night when Davis played well defensively and we didn’t get the looks we wanted.”