It spanned nearly two months, but all streaks must eventually come to an end as the UCSB women’s basketball team lost for the first time in 14 games Saturday afternoon against UC Davis.
In what was their first loss since a Dec. 29 road contest against Montana, the Gauchos (18-7 overall, 12-1 in the Big West) battled the Aggies (17-9, 11-3 Big West) through two physical halves of basketball before falling in overtime 59-56. Davis, now the winners of seven straight conference games, avenged a 53-62 home loss at the hands of Santa Barbara earlier this season – a game that also went to an extra frame.
“Win or lose tonight, that was just a fun game to be a part of,” Davis Head Coach Sandy Simpson said. “That’s as good a defensive battle in terms of both sides of the ball as I’ve witnessed for a while.”
Scoring was few and far between for both teams in the first half, with UCSB shooting just 34.8 percent and Davis shooting 35 percent for the period. No team led by more than five points, and there were five ties early on as the teams locked each other up defensively. A three-pointer by sophomore guard Meagan Williams with 46 seconds remaining gave the Gauchos some momentum as they took a 21-20 lead, but a turnover on their next possession led to a layup from Aggie junior guard Kirsten Commins and sent the Aggies into halftime with the 22-21 advantage.
“I told the team right at the beginning of the second half that NCAA tournament games are that way,” Head Coach Mark French said. “The way they’re calling the game is the way NCAA tournament games are going to be called, so let them push, let them shove and let’s take advantage of that.”
Davis came out in the second half with a 10-0 run that was capped off by a three-pointer from senior forward Jessica Campbell to put the Aggies ahead 34-26 with 14:23 remaining. After UCSB junior guard Lauren Pedersen and Commins traded threes, the Gauchos ran off a 12-0 run of their own that was keyed by the rebounding tenacity of freshman forward Ashlee Brown – who finished the game with 11 points and 16 rebounds – and the hot-shooting of Pedersen, who hit back-to-back three-pointers that put Santa Barbara back on top 42-39 with 7:07 left.
Davis eventually countered with seven straight points to go back ahead 48-45. Junior guard Whitney Warren tied the game at 48, but Davis freshman forward Paige Mintun gave the Aggies a 50-48 lead on a jumper with just under two minutes to play. As the game wound down, Wilson missed a three, but Brown secured the offensive board and scored a tough layup inside to tie the game for the 10th time at 50. The Gauchos had a chance to win it in regulation but could not convert, sending the game into overtime.
Campbell proved to be the go-to player for Davis as she scored six points in the final five minutes, giving the Aggies a 52-51 lead with 2:50 remaining. Santa Barbara took the lead on a layup from Brown, but Davis sophomore guard Anna Harp put the Aggies back on top on the next play. Brown got sent to the line and tied the game at 54 with 1:31 left, but Campbell hit the deciding basket on the next play for Davis, giving the Aggies a 56-54 lead with under a minute left. The teams traded fouls for the remainder of the contest and, ultimately, it was the Aggies that celebrated a 59-56 victory.
“I’m looking to have a great week of practice next week, partially because we lost,” French said. “That’s the great thing about sports: When you’re disappointed and don’t get the outcome, it’s about what you do about it, and I’m very confident that we’ll do great things about it.”