It wasn’t particularly easy, but the UCSB women’s basketball team will take it.

Led by Lauren Pedersen’s 17 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals on Tuesday night vs. Vanguard, UCSB defeated Vanguard 77-73 in overtime in its final exhibition game. The Gauchos open the 2008-09 campaign — the first under new head coach Lindsay Gottlieb — on Sunday vs. the University of San Diego at 2 p.m. in the Thunderdome.

On the verge of defeat, trailing 66-63, Pedersen hit a game-tying three-pointer with 46 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime. In OT, Pedersen hit a pair of free throws to make it a five-point game, 71-66, with 1:30 left.

However, Vanguard hit one of its 13 three-pointers on the night — the Lions were 13 for 38 from beyond the arc for the game — to bring it back to within two. That’s when Jordan Franey closed out the victory, the Gauchos’ second win in as many exhibition games.

Franey knocked down a pair of free throws with three seconds left for the final tally. Franey finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Jenna Green had a team-high 18 points in 21 minutes, while Kat Suderman chipped in 13 points and six rebounds. Whitney Warren had seven rebounds to go with four points, and Emilie Johnson added seven points and three assists.

“I think this game will help us more than a 30-point exhibition blowout,” Gottlieb said. “We have a quick turnaround before Sunday, but in the long run, this game will help us.”

UCSB led by 10 at halftime — the Gauchos’ largest lead was 12 early in the second half — despite Vanguard knocking down seven three-pointers in the first 20 minutes. The Lions, with no one taller than 6 feet on the team, lived from the outside as evidenced by their 38 three-point attempts and cut the game to two points at 47-45 with 13:47 remaining on Rachel Copeland’s three-pointer.

Copeland finished with five three-pointers and 19 points, while Lauren Gregory had 22 points and Diana Neves added 18, including four treys.

Vanguard took its first lead since the opening minutes with 9:37 remaining on Nondi Johnson’s jumper as the teams traded buckets for several minutes until Pedersen’s layup with 4:03 left made it 62-57.

The Lions, however, took a three-point led on Gregory’s triple with 2:01 left before Pedersen’s own three-pointer sent it to overtime.

“I really like how our team fought back and showed their grit at the end,” Gottlieb said. “That was a gutsy win, and I like the poise we showed in winning.”

UCSB officially opens the Gottlieb era on Sunday vs. University of San Diego at 2 p.m. in the Thunderdome.

Matt Hurst is a UCSB assistant director of athletics communications.