February 16, 2013

UCSB Unable to Topple Cal Poly

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara had its three-game win streak snapped on Saturday afternoon as it fell to visiting Blue-Green rival Cal Poly, 65-56, in the Thunderdome. 

The loss marked the second of the season against the Mustangs. The Gauchos had fallen, 66-47, at Cal Poly on Jan. 19 before proceeding to win five of its next six games.

UCSB falls to 11-13 on the season and to 7-5 in Big West play while Cal Poly improves to 14-9 overall and 8-4 in league.

Senior Sweets Underwood, the reigning Big West Player of the Week, recorded her third consecutive double-double – and tenth of the season – to lead the Gauchos. She put up 15 points, making 5-of-12 attempts from the field and sinking 5-of-7 free-throw attempts. Underwood also had 13 rebounds and two assists.

Senior Angelei Aguirre had 12 points, one-shy of her career-high. Classmate Kirsten Tilleman, meanwhile, was just shy of a double-double with nine points and nine assists. Junior Nicole Nesbit led the team with five assists.

After Cal Poly's Molly Schlemer put up 22 points in the Jan. 19 game, UCSB seemed to still not have a response for the 6-5 center on Saturday afternoon. The junior recorded a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Kayla Griffin had 15 points and seven rebounds, Ariana Elgado recorded 12 points and Jonae Ervin had 11 assists.

The Gauchos shot 35.1% (20-of-57) from the floor and 71.4% from the free-throw line (15-of-21). Cal Poly shot 45.3% (24-of-53) from the floor, made 8-of-17 three-pointers (47.1%) and sunk 9-of-14 (64.3%) from the charity stripe. UCSB was out-rebounded 38-34. After committing nine turnovers in the first half, the Gauchos did not tally any more in the second stanza. 

Cal Poly's Ervin opened the game with a steal and a fastbreak layup to put the Mustangs on the board first. Underwood countered with a layup of her own to tie the game. Cal Poly then proceeded to break the tie with a 16-0 run as the Gauchos missed their next eight shots.

The Mustangs brought their lead to a game-high 17 points at 21-4 with 9:53 remaining in the first half following a three-pointer from Elegado. The Gauchos were able to go on an 11-4 run over the ensuing five minutes to cut their deficit to 10 at 25-15. The Mustangs then pushed their lead back to 14, but four straight points by Destini Mason put the Gauchos back within 10 at halftime, 33-23.

Melissa Zornig hit a three to open the second half, cutting the Mustang lead to single digits for the first time since the opening six minutes of the game. Cal Poly was able to build its lead back up to 17 points with 13:18 to go when Griffin hit a three-pointer.

The double figure lead held until the Gauchos went on an 8-0 run to whittle their deficit to 53-46 with 6:07 to go. While UCSB kept attempting to chip away, the Mustangs were able to hold the Gauchos at bay as they secured the 65-56 win. 

Saturday's game served as UCSB's annual Play 4Kay game to help raise breast cancer awareness. The 2013 Play 4Kay initiative (formerly known as WBCA Pink Zone) is an opportunity for a nation of coaches to raise breast cancer awareness and funds for research on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond. Since its inception in 2007, the Play 4Kay initiative has raised over $2 million to support women's cancer research. The Kay Yow Cancer Fund is the official charity of the initiative. 

UCSB will remain at home next week to host Hawai'i on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. and Cal State Northridge on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. Both games will be broadcast live on KZSB 1290 AM, the Santa Barbara News-Press radio station. The games will also air on UCSBgauchos.com and a live video stream is available on Big West.tv.

Tickets are available by visiting the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling (805) 893-UCSB or by clicking here