Anya Choice finished with a season-high 17 points, and UCSB defeated visiting Cal Poly 65-59 in the latest edition of the Blue-Green Rivalry.
The Gauchos closed the game on a 12-7 run after Cal Poly cut its deficit to 53-52 with 4:58 remaining to secure a crucial Big West Conference victory.
“Late game getting the ball in bounds, getting fouled, and making free throws. We missed one, but we’ve probably shot it well in those situations, designed by who is going to be the first option,” said UCSB coach Bonnie Henrickson. “The good thing for us is we’ve got a lot of players that shoot really well from the line.”
The decisive play of the game came with 3:45 remaining in the fourth quarter when Choice knocked down a corner three-pointer that increased the UCSB lead to 58-52 lead.
“I told [Choice] the other day: If somebody tries not guarding you, you should have 40 [points],” Henrickson said. “She wins all of the shooting drills, along with Taylor [Mole] and Jessica [Grant]. We do competitive shooting drills at least every other day.”
Nine of the 10 UCSB players that entered the game reached the scoring column. Ila Lane scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Grant knocked down two three-pointers on her way to nine points and Kennedy Johnson also scored nine points off the bench.
The Gauchos (9-4 overall, 2-1 Big West) bounced back from a 68-58 loss at UC San Diego and have won four of their last five games.
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UCSB’s defense held Cal Poly to 36.8 percent shooting overall and just 20 percent from three-point range.
The two teams were tied 14-14 at the end of the first quarter, but UCSB’s depth overwhelmed the Mustangs in the second quarter, led by strong contributions by Johnson and Grant off the bench.
The Gauchos outscored Cal Poly 24-12 in the second quarter to take a 38-26 lead into halftime.
“That’s where it’s huge for us, and will be big in the league, is teams that have depth,” said Henrickson of the boost her team received from reserves and the need for them to keep it up with a challenging upcoming schedule. “The bench has to be ready; we’re going to need it from a production standpoint and just from a fatigue standpoint.”
The Gauchos will conclude their two-game home stand on Wednesday against Cal State Bakersfield beginning at 7 p.m. before hitting the road to play at UC Riverside on Saturday.
UCSB, 62; Cal Poly, 57
The Gauchos increased their winning streak to eight games and improved to 11-2 overall and 3-0 in Big West Conference play.
Miles Norris scored a team-high 16 points. Ajay Mitchell added 15 points and five assists. The Gauchos trailed 19-16 at halftime, but rallied in the second half to down their rivals on the road.