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UCSB Tames Tigers to Keep Win Streak Alive

Pacific pushes but Gauchos prevail in end, 62-51, for 14th straight victory.

Sha’Rae Gibbons scored 14 points and Jessica Wilson added 11 and a career-high eight steals to lead UCSB to a 62-51 win over Pacific on Thursday at the Thunderdome.

The Gauchos swept the season series with the Tigers for the fifth consecutive year. UCSB has won its last 14 games, improving to 18-6 overall this season and remaining flawless against Big West Conference competition at 12-0. The 14-game winning streak is the program’s longest since the 2001-02 squad went 16-0 in conference play and won 22 straight.

With the loss, Pacific fell to 11-15 overall and 6-7 in the Big West.

Gibbons scored 14 points on four-of-seven shooting to lead the way for UCSB, reaching double figures for the fifth time in the last seven games. She was a perfect five-for-five at the free-throw line and grabbed four rebounds, but had 10 turnovers in the game.

Wilson finished five-of-13 from the floor on the way to her fourth consecutive double-digit scoring effort and tallied seven rebounds, two assists and a block. Her eight steals was a personal best and led the way for a Gauchos squad that tallied 17 for the game.

Lauren Pedersen finished with nine points, a game-high five assists, and four steals, while Margaret Johnson hauled in a game-high eight rebounds and scored seven points in her third-career start.

Wilson opened the game with back-to-back jumpers and then hit another one four minutes later as UCSB raced out to a 12-4 lead after the first 5:20. Pacific scored six unanswered points to pull within two, but Pedersen found Wilson on the wing for a triple and Gibbons converted a three-point play to push the lead back to eight, 18-10 with 12:29 remaining.

Ashlee Brown converted two free throws to give the Gauchos a 30-20 advantage with 3:48 left in the half, but Amy VanHollebeke scored eight points during an 11-3 Tigers run to close the period. By the break, Pacific had cut UCSB’s lead to just two, 33-31.

Kelsey Lavender then hit one of her five threes to open the second half, giving the Tigers their only lead of the game, 34-33.

Johnson scored on the next two possessions, however, and Gibbons followed with consecutive baskets as the Gauchos scored 11 unanswered points to take a 44-34 advantage with 16:06 remaining. UCSB then opened its biggest lead of the game at 55-40 following a Brown layup with 9:14 left.

Pacific was able to pull within seven, 56-49, with 4:11 left to play after the Gauchos went more than five minutes without a field goal. Then Wilson came up with a big steal and took it the distance to stem the tide. Gibbons hit two free throws two minutes later to give the Gauchos an 11-point cushion and UCSB held on for the 62-51 final margin.

UCSB limited Pacific to just 20 points in the second half and outscored the Tigers, 26-16, on points off turnovers. The Gauchos shot 40 percent for the game, while the Tigers finished at 35.3 percent. UCSB controlled the glass, 43-29, and held a 17-4 advantage in bench scoring.

Lavender led all scorers with 17 points, finishing five-of-11 from the field. All 11 of her shots were from behind the three-point line. VanHollebeke scored 15 points on six-of-11 shooting to go with six rebounds and four assists.

The Gauchos entertain UC Davis at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Thunderdome. UCSB needed overtime to defeat the Aggies in the first meeting of the year last month.

Ryan Hall is UCSB‘s assistant meda relations director.

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