The UCSB women’s basketball team looks to continue its longest winning streak since the 2001-02 season when it hosts Cal Poly on Saturday.
Coming off a 77-67 win over Cal State Bakersfield on Wednesday, the Gauchos (16-6 overall, 10-0 in the Big West) will try to earn their thirteenth consecutive victory when they face the Mustangs (9-14, 6-4 Big West) Saturday at the Thunderdome. UCSB earned a lopsided 75-58 win in San Luis Obispo earlier this season and revenge will likely be on the mind of its geographic rival.
After back-to-back road wins over Fullerton and Irvine, the Gauchos returned to the home court Wednesday to play the first of a four straight games at the Thunderdome against Cal State Bakersfield (9-13). In its final nonconference game this season, Santa Barbara fought off a tenacious performance from the underdog visitors to claim a 77-67. Senior guard Jessica Wilson paced UCSB with 21 points, seven rebounds and three steals, and the Gauchos also got solid backcourt performances from juniors Sha’Rae Gibbons and Lauren Pedersen, who combined for ten of the team’s 23 total assists.
Reigning Big West Player of the Week, junior forward Kat Suderman, sat out Wednesday night’s game to rest her knees. Santa Barbara made up for her missing 11.4 points and five rebounds per game with strong performances from two of its freshmen forwards, Ashlee Brown and Margaret Johnson. Both earned career highs against Bakersfield, with Brown chipping in 15 points and six rebounds as a starter and Johnson earning a double-double off the bench with 11 points on 5-13 shooting and 11 rebounds. The game was a positive experience for the team as it not only got Suderman much needed rest but allowed its freshmen to gain more in-game experience that will only add to the team’s depth as the season goes on.
Saturday’s game against Cal Poly will likely be more intense than the last time the two teams played, a game that UCSB dominated from start to finish, 75-58. In that contest the Gauchos had four players reach double figures and out-shot the Mustangs 47.9 to 35.7 percent, including a blistering 63.2 percent in the second half. Despite the road victory for Santa Barbara, Cal Poly has actually won the last two games the teams have played at the Thunderdome, a clear indication that when these two rivals get together there are no guarantees.
With a 6-4 record in the Big West the Mustangs are currently sitting in fourth place in the conference and are battling for positioning with third place Davis (7-3), and fifth place Fullerton (6-4). A win over the conference’s dominant first-place squad would not only help Cal Poly in positioning, but would likely give the team a major boost in confidence as it enters the final stretch of the season.
UCSB’s game against Cal Poly is slated to tip-off Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at the Thunderdome.