The UCSB women’s basketball team played the part of Wile E. Coyote Saturday night, as the Roadrunners of Cal State Bakersfield foiled all of the Gauchos’ best laid plans and came away with a 69-67 win.
“We want to win every game,” Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “There’s no question we’re disappointed”
It seemed for a while as though the Gauchos would be able to do that, as coming into Saturday’s match UCSB had been on a ten-game tear through conference and nonconference foes alike. But the aptly named Roadrunners and their speedy offense put up nearly 70 points against the stingy Santa Barbara defense, which has generally spelled a death-sentence for Gottlieb’s squad. UCSB is 2-6 when allowing 60 or more points this season.
“We were a bit disappointed with our own inability to get big stops on defense,” Gottlieb said. “There are some things that we need to get better at that [Bakersfield] exposed.”
The first half went fairly evenly for the two squads, until a late run by the home side catapulted Bakersfield into an eight-point halftime lead.
After trailing by as many as 10 early in the second half, UCSB made a quick comeback, tying the game at 35 points apiece with 13 minutes remaining.
“I was really proud of our guts… of our second half effort,” Gottlieb said.
And when senior guard Lauren Pedersen scored a couple of fast break points immediately after, it seemed like Santa Barbara might take the game over. However, from there the game just tightened even further.
Neither team led by more than four for the remainder of the game, and the outcome was in question until the very buzzer. Bakersfield accrued a three-point lead late, and UCSB would play for the last-second shot to tie. Pedersen’s attempt from beyond the arc was off the mark, but she had justification: she had been fouled. Now the guard was at the line for three shots, needing to make each of them to tie the game.
Pedersen’s first two were perfect, and Bakersfield Head Coach Tim La Kuse tried to ice her with a timeout. The guard was undeterred, sinking the third shot to apparently send the game to overtime. Unfortunately for UCSB, the Roadrunners still had 8 seconds, which was just enough time for Krista Aruse to blaze the length of the court and nail a buzzer-beating layup for the win.
The loss comes despite four Gauchos registering double-figures in points, including very solid play underneath. Posts Jenna Green, Margaret Johnson and Ashlee Brown combined for 41 points on an astonishing 13-19 shooting.
“I thought we were at our best when we got the ball in the post,” Gottlieb said. “I thought we didn’t get the ball there enough.”
The free throw shooting for UCSB was even more impressive, as Santa Barbara nailed 14 of 15 second-half freebies to keep the game tight.
Up next for the Gauchos is a homestand against conference foes Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine. And while the 10-game winning streak might be over, UCSB does still have an undefeated Big West record to attend to. The Fullerton game will be Feb. 5 in the Thunderdome, and tipoff is set for 7 p.m.