IRVINE, Calif. – UC Irvine senior Kassandra McCalister torched UC Santa Barbara for a career-high 36 points and handed out five assists to lead UCI to a 72-65 win over the Gauchos on Saturday night at the Bren Events Center.
McCalister, who previously lit up the Gauchos in the Anteaters' win in January in the Thunderdome for 21 points, went on a half-turning 8-0 run in the first half and then a 9-0 run by herself in the second half to turn the game around.
Kirsten Tilleman's basket with 4:43 left gave UCSB a 58-57 lead, the Gauchos' first since midway through the first half, but McCalister scored the next nine points to give the Anteaters back control. UCSB had its three-game winning streak snapped and falls to 11-14 overall and 5-7 in the Big West. UC Irvine improves to 12-14, 8-6.
The Gauchos seemed to be their own worst enemy for much of the night as the team committed 18 turnovers, leading to 27 UCI points. Between that and McCalister's torrid shooting, UCSB was fortunate to be in the game. However Santa Barbara shot 49.0% from the floor to keep countering its turnovers and McCalister, who was 15 of 16 from the free throw line and buried five three-pointers.
The 36 points scored by McCalister was the most by a Gaucho opponent since Felicia Ragland had 36 against UCSB in January, 2002. Ironically, McCalister transferred from Oregon State to UC Irvine. The senior's total equaled the eighth-most points allowed by an opponent in program history.
UCSB came out on first to open the game, leading 12-7 early on. But McCalister heated up and went on her 8-0 run to swing the game back to UCI's favor. Destini Mason knocked down a 17-foot jumper from the left side near the end of the first half to bring the Gauchos to 34-32, but said something that caught a referee's ire and was given a technical foul.
McCalister hit both free throws and Kelly Meggs nailed a three, one of 12 by Irvine on the night, to create a five-point swing.
The Gauchos went on a 17-4 run midway through the second half to take its one-point lead with just under five minutes remaining, but on senior night in Irvine, McCalister made sure she left in good form and finished off the Gauchos.
UCSB will host Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State in its final two home games of the season next week. Make sure to be there for both games – get your tickets by calling 893-UCSB or by clicking here.