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Streaking Gauchos Tripped Up in Overtime, 59-56

Davis defense smothers UCSB and snaps 14-game winning streak.

It was a clash of titans at the Thunderdome on Saturday afternoon as UCSB, riding a 14-game winning streak, faced off against UC Davis, winners of six in a row. Fittingly, the game was tied after regulation. Unfortunately, the Gauchos fell in overtime, 59-56.

Lauren Pedersen finished with a career-high 19 points to lead all scorers, but it wasn’t enough as UCSB (18-7 overall, 12-1 in the Big West Conference) lost for the first time in Big West play this season. The Gauchos were held to just 32.8 percent shooting for the day.

The defeat was the Gauchos’ first since they dropped an 88-70 decision at Montana on Dec. 29. Their 14-game streak is the program’s longest such run since 2001-02. UCSB had won its first 12 conference games by an average of more than 11 points per game.

With three games remaining, UCSB is still in the driver’s seat to win the Big West regular season title and capture the No. 1 seed heading into the conference tournament in Anaheim March 12-15.

For their part, the Aggies (17-9, 11-3) avenged last month’s 62-53 overtime loss to UCSB on their home court.

UCSB struggled against Davis’ zone defense all afternoon and converted just 19-of-58 shots, a 32.8 percent mark that was the team’s worst since finishing at a 30.5 percent clip in a 61-50 loss to BYU to open the season. Even with an extra five minutes of play, the Gauchos managed to score just 56 points against the Big West’s top defense, finishing with their third-lowest output of the year.

“We certainly didn’t lose the game on the defensive end of the floor,” head coach Mark French said. “I thought we played really hard and the effort was there, we just couldn’t get enough quality shots and didn’t knock them down when we did.

"Give Davis all the credit. They executed down the stretch and came up with the plays they needed to win the game.”

Jessica Campbell scored 16 points on five-of-14 shooting to lead the way for the Aggies. Kirsten Commins was a perfect five-for-five from the field and finished with 11 points off the bench, while Anna Harp chipped in with 10.

UC Davis made 21-of-48 shots, or 43.8 percent.

Pedersen finished six-of-10 from the floor, including five-of-eight from behind the three-point line on the way to a career-best 19, but she was one of only two Gauchos to reach double figures. The junior guard also tallied five rebounds, six assists, two blocks and two steals. Her previous high was 15 points, last week against Cal Poly.

Freshman forward Ashlee Brown notched her first career double-double, tallying 11 points on four-of-nine shooting and a career-high 16 rebounds.

Kat Suderman scored just one point in 19 minutes, playing her second game with a bout of strep throat. Jessica Wilson was a dismal two-of-14 from the floor, finishing with just six points in 37 minutes.

Playing in overtime for the second time in the last three games — and for the fifth time this season — the Gauchos’ magic finally ran out in their first overtime loss.

After Suderman made the front end of two free throws to open the scoring, Campbell knocked down a jumper 2:10 into the extra session to give the Aggies a 52-51 advantage. Wilson connected with Brown for a layup less than a minute later as UCSB reclaimed what would be its last lead of the game with 2:07 remaining.

After a Harp layup with 1:41 left gave the lead back to Davis, the Gauchos failed to convert on three straight looks on the ensuing trip. Brown was fouled on a putback attempt after grabbing UCSB’s third-straight offensive rebound and made one of two free-throws to tie the game at 54, with 1:31 left to play.

Campbell came up big again, hitting a 15-foot jumper the next time down, and a critical turnover on the Gauchos’ next possession gave the ball back to the Aggies with 40 seconds left. Whitney Warren was whistled for a foul and Haylee Donaghe sank two free throws to push the lead to 57-54 with 19 seconds to play.

Pedersen was fouled before the Gauchos could get a look at a three and she converted two at the line, but Campbell followed with two of her own for the final 56-54 margin. Pedersen’s desperation three as time expired fell short and the Aggies became the first team in the Big West to knock off first-place UCSB.

UC Davis held a 22-21 halftime lead and opened the second half on a 12-5 run to build a 34-26 advantage with 14:23 remaining in regulation.

Pedersen then hit one of five second-half threes and the Gauchos scored 10 of the next 13 points to take a 39-37 lead with 8:18 left to play. UCSB led 45-41 after Pedersen hit another triple three minutes later, but Campbell scored five-straight points and Donaghe hit a jumper to give the visitors a 48-45 cushion with 3:48 left.

Brown’s layup with 38 seconds remaining tied the game at 50, but the Gauchos failed to convert after Chisa Ononiwu forced a turnover on UC Davis’ final possession of regulation.

UCSB will look to bounce back at defending Big West champion UC Riverside on March 1. The Gauchos defeated the Highlanders, 73-61, in the Thunderdome on Jan. 31.

Ryan Hall is UCSB’s assistant media relations director.

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