Sweet Senior Night for UCSB After Thrilling Comeback Victory

From L-R: Head coach Bonnie Henrickson, Makala Roper, Drew Edelman, Chaya Durr and Drea Toler. (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
From L-R: Head coach Bonnie Henrickson, Makala Roper, Drew Edelman, Chaya Durr and Drea Toler. (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Sarah Bates made a pair of free-throws with 0.5 seconds on the clock, and the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team capped off a wild fourth quarter comeback to defeat UC Riverside 72-70 on a memorable senior night at the Thunderdome.

The Gauchos (12-15, 9-6 Big West) were getting ready to play their first overtime game since the 2014-15 season, until all of a sudden, they weren't. Regulation seemingly came to an end with the score knotted at 70-70, but after a review, the officials put 1.5 seconds back on the clock and that was all UCSB needed.

Taking the ball out on the sideline near midcourt, Drea Toler handled the inbound pass and was fouled almost immediately as the Highlanders pressured the ball and tripped up Toler in the process.

Forced to leave the game after being injured on the play, Bates came in, cool, calm and collected and drained the pair of free-throws to deliver a sweet send off for UCSB's four seniors, Chaya Durr, Drew Edelman, Makala Roper and Toler.

"In the first half, I thought we played angry and were too emotional," said head coach Bonnie Henrickson. "We were playing mad, upset, and anger is a negative emotion, it's exhausting and we don't play well that way. We played with a lot more poise and composure in the second half and hung in there long enough to give ourselves a chance."

The Gauchos trailed for the majority of the game as UC Riverside (8-20, 5-9 Big West) shot nearly 50 percent from the field and had dominant performances from Michelle Curry (31 points, 14 rebounds) and Lauren Holt (21 points, five rebounds, five assists).

UCSB trailed by as many as 11 points, as late as 8:54 remaining in the game, after UCR took a 53-42 lead on a jumper from Holt in the paint.

The Gauchos turned to Tal Sahar and Edelman, who combined for 25 of UCSB's 32 fourth quarter points, but still found themselves trailing by six, 68-62, with just 41 seconds left in the game.

Sahar came through in the clutch with a rhythm three-pointer to cut the lead to three, and after UCR scored on the other end, Sahar was fouled shooting a three on the very next possession.

The redshirt sophomore knocked down all three attempts to bring UCSB within one-point, 69-68, and the Highlanders made just one-of-two free-throws after the Gauchos fouled.

With 25 seconds on the clock and the ball, UCSB worked for a good look and found one as Sarah Porter passed it over the top to Edelman down low, who turned and layed in the tying basket with eight seconds left.

Curry gave UCR a good look at a game-winner but the ball rolled off the side of the rim and was knocked out of bounds, giving UCSB all the time it would need to cap off the comeback for the win.

Edelman tied her career-high with 27 points to go with 14 rebounds for her sixth double-double in the last seven games and Sahar finished with a season-high 21 points, her most in a UCSB uniform and just two off her career-high. Toler tied her career-high with 10 assists, making it two straight home games she has dished out double-digit assists.

UCSB wraps up the regular season with a road game against Hawai'i on Thursday, Mar. 1 at 9:00 p.m. PT