The UCSB women’s basketball team continued its domination of the rest of the Big West this weekend with a 77-69 road victory over UC Irvine (6-18 overall, 2-6 in the Big West). The Gauchos (15-6 overall, 7-0 Big West) won their 11th-consecutive game, the program’s longest win streak since the 2001-02 season.
Junior center Kat Suderman continued her breakout season, leading the team with a career-high 22 points. Senior guard Jessica Wilson also had an excellent night, finishing with 21 points, six boards, three dimes and two steals. The two have been an unstoppable pair this year, and Saturday night, they shot the lights out. Wilson and Suderman together shot 18-22 for an 82 percent mark. Santa Barbara is shooting 42 percent on the season, but set a season high by shooting 54.2 percent in Irvine.
Saturday night was the second meeting this season for the two teams, and was almost an exact repeat of the 76-68 game the teams played in the Thunderdome on Jan. 10. The Anteaters ran with the Gauchos for most of their earlier match-up, and they came out to tip-off with a lot of confidence. Irvine opened up a quick lead, and shot a stellar 52 percent in the first half. The two teams were evenly matched through most of the first half. However, with the score tied and four minutes left, Wilson got hot and notched six points in an 8-0 UCSB run that stretched the lead to 34-26.
Irvine came out of the locker room still looking strong, and halved UCSB’s lead in the opening minute of the second half. Santa Barbara refused to let UCI come back into the game, and used an 11-5 run in the next three minutes to gain a 49-39 advantage. Less than four minutes into the second period, Suderman heated up along with freshman forward Margaret Johnson. The two hit four shots in a row to double the lead again with the 65-45 mark, the largest lead of the game. Johnson had her best game in Santa Barbara thus far, with eight points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes, all career highs.
With the huge lead, the Gauchos did not play their best ball for the last 10 minutes of the game. Irvine continued playing the best it has played this season, and ran off a 14-4 run in the final minutes to chop the final lead to eight. In the last 10 minutes, Irvine doubled the Gauchos’ scoring output, 24-12.
The rebounding contest was even for the two teams, with UCSB on the winning side of the 34-33 margin. However, the Gauchos allowed Irvine to grab 14 offensive boards, which was enough to give the Anteaters enough second chances to stay in the game.
With most of the wins in their current streak coming from away games, the Gauchos will get a chance to relax at home for six of the final seven games of the season. Santa Barbara will be playing in the Thunderdome for the next two weekends, starting with a 7 p.m. game this Wednesday against CSU Bakersfield.