Defense did it again for Big West Conference champion UCSB as the Gauchos smothered Cal Poly right from the tip-off Friday at the Big West tournament in Anaheim. Forcing 18 Mustangs turnovers and sprinting to a 19-point halftime lead, UCSB cruised to a convincing 77-57 win and a place in the championship game — their 12th-straight appearance in the Big West final.

Fifteen points from Sha’Rae Gibbons, 12 from Lauren Pedersen, 11 from Chisa Ononiwu and 10 each from Whitney Warren and Jessica Wilson provided the balanced scoring that makes UCSB so tough to defend.

The Gauchos shot 83 percent from the free-throw line (15-18) in that explosive first half to solidify their lead, and shot 46 percent as a team on the game to subdue any hopes of a Cal Poly comeback.

Cal Poly’s Rebecca Tratter led all scoreers with 18, but got little help.

Wilson, the Big West Player of the Year, hauled in a game-high eight rebounds for UCSB.

The Gauchos play second-seed UC Davis in the Big West championship at noon Saturday.