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Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank

Women’s Basketball: UCSB Gives Up Late 7-Point Lead, Losing 61-59 to Harvard

The Gauchos commit 19 turnovers in their first loss at home this season.

Home is always where the heart is, and for the UCSB women’s basketball team, it has been where the wins were this season. Things appeared headed in that direction again as the Gauchos had a seven-point lead with a little more than a minute to play Wednesday.

However, Harvard scored the game’s final nine points to hand the Gauchos a crushing 61-59 defeat, which was also UCSB’s first loss at the Thunderdome in four games this season. Harvard improves to 7-4; the Gauchos fall to 3-5.

Kat Suderman’s layup with 1:17 to go gave UCSB a 59-52 advantage, but a quick three-pointer by the Crimson’s Christine Matera cut the lead to four, and Harvard employed a full-court press to cause a turnover. Niki Fenelli nailed another Harvard three-pointer, and the lead shrunk to 59-58.

“You can’t let a team like this hang around,” UCSB head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “They’re a good team, but I felt like when we had a little bit of a lead we were never able to push it far enough for me to be comfortable. Obviously, it proved down the stretch to not be enough to hang on.”

A traveling call on Jenna Green, who had a game-high 16 points to go with five rebounds and three blocks, allowed Harvard’s Katie Rollins to score a bucket before Rollins made one of two free throws after another UCSB turnover. The Gauchos committed 19 turnovers in the game.

On Rollins’ second miss, with 3.6 seconds left, Lauren Pedersen took the ball upcourt and sank a three-pointer, but it came moments after the buzzer and the Gauchos were left with a defeat.

Suderman had a career-high six assists and five rebounds off the bench to go with 10 points, while Whitney Warren had 12 points and eight rebounds.

As a team, UCSB shot 47.3 percent and held the Crimson to just 34.3 percent, including a 23.5 percent mark in the second half.

“I was really pleased with our defensive effort in our second half, and I told our players that,” Gottlieb said. “You hang on and get stop after stop after stop, but at some point you need to be able to convert and build a big lead by getting stops and scores.”

Down 47-46, UCSB went on a 11-5 spurt to take a 57-52 lead before Suderman’s bucket gave them their biggest lead of the night. Green, Warren and Jordan Franey all had layups in the stretch while Suderman had a bucket, an assist and two rebounds during the run.

“There were a lot of good things we did, and we had some high-low opportunities that we haven’t really gotten to do in other games,” Green said. “We had good chemistry out there.”

They’ll try to continue the chemistry Sunday when the Gauchos travel to Kentucky to take on the Wildcats. Tip-off will be at 11 a.m. and can be seen online at UCSBgauchos.com or heard locally on 990 KTMS.

UCSB’s next home game will be at 2 p.m. Dec. 28 vs. Santa Clara. That game is a Coke Family Pack Night, where for $40 fans get four tickets, four T-shirts, four hot dogs and four sodas.

Matt Hurst is a UCSB assistant director of athletics communications.

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