Harvard turned UCSB faces crimson Wednesday night, outscoring the Gauchos 9-0 down the stretch to steal a 61-59 victory in a women’s basketball game at the Thunderdome. The Gauchos led 59-52 after a Kat Suderman bucket with 1:18 remaining, but the final minute was all Harvard execution and UCSB excruciation.
The Gauchos committed turnovers on their last three possessions. Harvard made a pair of 3-pointers, and with 16 seconds to play, Katie Rollins put the Crimson ahead 60-59 with a layup off point guard Emily Tay‘s drive-and-dish.
After a timeout, UCSB ran a play to isolate Lauren Pedersen, but as the senior guard tried to turn the corner on her defender, she lost the ball out of bounds. Forced to foul, the Gauchos sent Rollins to the free-throw line with 3.9 seconds on the clock. She made one and missed the second. Pedersen heaved a 25-footer through the hoop several seconds after time expired.
UCSB lost for the first time at home and dropped to 3-5 overall. Harvard, favored to win the Ivy League title, is 7-4.
Gaucho coach Lindsay Gottlieb was proud of her team’s defense, which held Harvard to 23.5-percent shooting in the second half, but the Crimson got too many second-chance points with 19 offensive rebounds. The visitors (24-for-70) took 15 more shots than the Gauchos (26-for-55).
“It was a tough loss,” said Suderman, a 6’4″ senior who had 10 points and a career-high six assists. “I’ll probably think about it all night. We should have been up by double digits in the second half.”
Harvard led 36-34 at halftime but made only two of 14 shots to start out the second half. The Gauchos failed to capitalize.
“You can’t let a team like this hang around,” Gottlieb said. “They’re a good team.”
Jenna Green led UCSB with 16 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Whitney Warren had 12 points and eight rebounds.
Pedersen contributed five points, eight rebounds, eight assists, three steals, and two shot blocks, but she also had two of UCSB’s costly turnovers in the final minute. Green had the other.
“I’ll put the ball in Lauren’s and Jenna’s hands time and time again,” Gottlieb said of the two seniors.
Senior guard Niki Finelli hit a trio of 3-pointers and topped Harvard’s scoring with 13 points. Rollins and Christine Matera each scored 11. UCSB’s defense held sophomore forward Emma Markley, averaging 15.4 points a game, to a season-low six points.
The Gaucho women go on the road to Kentucky for their next game Sunday (11 a.m. PST).
Meanwhile, UCSB’s men fell to Weber State by a 70-63 score Wednesday night at Ogden, Utah. The Gauchos (5-5) will play at San Diego State on Saturday (1 p.m.).
After Christmas, both UCSB teams will play home games – the women against Santa Clara on Sunday, Dec. 28 (2 p.m.) and the men against Ball State on Monday, Dec. 29 (7 p.m.).