UC Santa Barbara Fends Off Cal Poly Rally to Edge Mustangs 73-68

UC Santa Barbara Fends Off Cal Poly Rally to Edge Mustangs 73-68

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The Cal Poly women's basketball team went on a 16-2 run midway through the fourth quarter at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, pulling within three points in the Blue-Green Rivalry matchup, but the Gauchos held on late, prevailing 73-68 at the Events Center Thunderdome.

Mustang senior guard Dynn Leaupepe scored a game-high 30 points in the loss, giving her an average of 35.0 for the week (following a career-high 40 at UC Riverside on Thursday).

UCSB established a 9-2 lead five-and-a-half minutes in, closing the first quarter up 11-8. The Gauchos added to their advantage with a 28-16 second quarter, heading to halftime ahead 39-24 on the way to their fourth straight victory.

Chaya Durr made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to finish the third quarter, giving UCSB its largest lead of the afternoon at 63-44.

After trailing 67-50 with 6:50 remaining, the Mustangs (7-7, 1-1 Big West) scored 16 of the game's next 18 points over a span of 4:51 — closing what was once a 19-point deficit to three with 1:59 left.

It was the second consecutive game in which Cal Poly mounted a furious second-half comeback bid, as the Mustangs opened conference play erasing a 13-point deficit en route to an 87-82 overtime win at UCR (the program's largest comeback since Nov. 23, 2014).

Senior center Nikki Fausey sank a 3 to narrow the margin to 67-61 at the 3:10 mark, followed with 2:23 to play by another 3 from senior forward Mary Kate Evans (69-64) and then a drive for a layup by Leaupepe with just under two minutes (69-66).

Neither team could score over the ensuing minute, however, before a Sarah Bates three-point play via a layup-plus-the-foul doubled the lead back to six with 55 seconds remaining. UCSB (5-9, 2-0) then followed by forcing a turnover on the next possession, stretching the lead to 73-66 on another Bates free throw with 39 seconds left.

Mustang junior center Devin Stanback added 10 points, and junior point guard Dye Stahley set a new career high with six steals. The six steals placed Stahley as the conference leader in the per-game category (with 2.6).

Bates and Tal Sahar each posted 17 points to pace five Gauchos scoring in double-figures.

Cal Poly will return to Mott Athletics Center to host a three-game homestand starting Saturday, Jan. 13 at 2 p.m. against CSUN (Youth Basketball Day, as all kids 13-and-under receive free admission).

Photo © 2018 David E. Holmes