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UCSB Ekes Out 13th Consecutive Win

Cal Poly forces overtime, but Gauchos win it in the end, 74-72.

Jessica Wilson tallied 20 points to lead all scorers, Lauren Pedersen finished with a career-high 15, and Sha’Rae Gibbons was one assist shy of her first career double-double as UCSB defeated Cal Poly, 74-72, in an overtime thriller Saturday afternoon in the Thunderdome.

The Gauchos’ 13th consecutive victory wasn’t easy, but they made plays down the stretch to knock off a hungry Mustangs team and improve to 11-0 in the Big West Conference. UCSB, which had a 4-6 record on Dec. 28, is now 17-6 overall this season.

Cal Poly had won the two previous meetings at the Thunderdome and nearly pulled off a third, forcing overtime after trailing by as many as 10 points in the second half. With the loss, the Mustangs fall to 9-15 overall and 6-5 in the Big West.

Wilson reached the 20-point plateau for the third consecutive game, finishing six-of-14 from the floor and six-of-seven at the foul line, while dishing out three assists. She had back-to-back 21-point performances against UC Irvine and Cal State Bakersfield.

Kat Suderman scored 19 points on eight-for-17 shooting to go with eight rebounds and a career-high four blocks.

Pedersen had another outstanding performance against Cal Poly, eclipsing her previous career mark of 13 points that came in UCSB’s 75-58 win last month in San Luis Obispo. The junior guard was six-of-10 from the field and tallied a season-high six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and three steals in a career-high 36 minutes.

Gibbons totaled 11 points, a game-high 11 rebounds and nine assists, finishing just short of the program’s first triple-double in several years. Both her rebound and assist totals were career highs, shattering previous marks of five boards and six helpers, respectively. Gibbons has now scored 10 or more in four of the last six games.

UCSB is 6-0 this season when four or more players reach double figures.

The Gauchos took a 49-39 lead with 12 minutes to play in the second half, following a Wilson three-pointer, but Cal Poly came back with seven unanswered points to pull within three with 9:12 remaining. Lisa McBride corralled an offensive rebound and scored less than two minutes later to tie the game at 50, while Ashlee Stewart knocked down a long three to give the Mustangs their largest lead of the game, 53-50, with 6:38 left.

UCSB responded as Wilson converted a runner down the lane, got fouled, and made the free-throw to knot the score again. The Mustangs held a 58-55 advantage a minute and a half later, but Pedersen hit back-to-back jumpers to give UCSB a 59-58 lead with 3:30 to play.

The teams traded baskets until Pedersen hit a free throw to put the Gauchos on top, 65-62, with 57 seconds to play. After a timeout, Megan Harrison sank a three from the left side to tie the game at 65 with 14 seconds remaining. UCSB had a decent look to win it regulation, but Jordan Franey’s jumper was just short and the game went into overtime.

Tied at 69 after 2:23 in the extra session, Gibbons found Whitney Warren for an easy layup in transition to give UCSB a two-point advantage. Sparkle Anderson then sank Cal Poly’s fifth three-pointer of the afternoon on the next possession, and the Mustangs took a 72-71 lead with 1:13 remaining.

Wilson and the Gauchos would not be denied however, and the senior guard hit a jumper from outside to put UCSB on top for good, 73-72, with 35 seconds left on the clock. Ashlee Brown came up with a big steal on the ensuing possession and Pedersen converted one of two free throws to give the Gauchos the final 74-72 advantage with 11 seconds remaining.

Anderson missed a jumper as time expired and UCSB held on for its 11th-straight Big West win.

The Gauchos are now 4-0 in overtime contests this season.

Freshman forward Kristina Santiago had a career game, leading the Mustangs with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Harrison finished with 13 off the bench, while McBride and Rebecca Tratter chipped in with 10 points apiece.

The Gauchos shot just under 43 percent for the game, while the Mustangs finished at 37.3 percent. Cal Poly held a 51-46 advantage on the glass with UCSB allowing 19 offensive rebounds. UCSB had out-rebounded its last seven opponents entering Saturday’s game. The Gauchos were just 17-of-31 at the free-throw line, 54.8 percent, missing 10 shots in the second half, while the Mustangs finished 11-of-14, for 78.6 percent.

UCSB’s homestand continues next week with Pacific visiting the Thunderdome for a 7 p.m. game Thursday and UC Davis arriving for a 2 p.m. game Feb. 23.

Ryan Hall is UCSB‘s assistant media relations director.

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