Gauchos Hold Off Cal Poly, 73-68; Now 2-0 to Start Big West Play

Makala Roper (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Makala Roper (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Tal Sahar and Sarah Bates scored 17 points apiece, Makala Roper dished out a career-high nine assists, and the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team held off a furious fourth quarter rally to top Cal Poly, 73-68, in the Blue Green Rivalry matchup at the Thunderdome on Saturday afternoon.

With the win, UCSB (5-9, 2-0 Big West) has now won four straight games after losing its previous nine. Cal Poly, meanwhile, falls to 7-7 overall and 1-1 in conference.

"We've got to clean things up, obviously," said head coach Bonnie Henrickson. "We were hesitant and tentative and threw the ball around a little bit. We have to clean that up, but when it came down to it we got a couple buckets, got some stops and an and-one. It is what it is and we'll take two wins, but it's clear we have to get better."

Another low scoring first quarter saw the Gauchos take an early 11-8 lead before surging ahead in the second period. Redshirt sophomore Sahar scored a season-high 17 points, all in the second quarter alone. The Tarzana, Calif. native hit back-to-back three's to open the frame and finished with four triples in the game.

With 28 points in the quarter, UCSB took a 39-24 lead into the break. The Gauchos led by as many as 19 points early in the third after Bates and Roper hit back-to-back three's to put UCSB ahead 45-26.

The Mustangs hung around, however, and proceeded to outscore the Gauchos 40-24 over the next quarter and a half to climb within one possession, 69-66, with two minutes remaining.

After empty possessions from both sides, Bates drove to the lane and converted a clutch and-one to give UCSB a five-point cushion with 55 seconds left. Another Bates free-throw down the stretch put the game out of reach.

The Gauchos shot 50 percent from the field (26-for-52), including a 10-for-22 (45.5 percent) performance from downtown. Cal Poly shot 26-for-70 (37.1 percent) from the field and UCSB outrebounded the Mustangs 43-32. 

With starting point guard Danae Miller sidelined due to injury, senior guard Roper stepped up big time with a career-best nine assists and a second straight 15 point game in 38 minutes. Five Gauchos scored double figures led by Sahar and Bates' 17 while Drew Edelman and Chaya Durr added 10 apiece. Edelman also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds to finish with a double-double.  

One game after scoring 40 points, Cal Poly's Dynn Leaupepe poured in a game-high 30 points to lead the Mustangs on Saturday.

UCSB heads out on the road for its next matchup against CSUN next Thursday, Jan. 11 at 7:00 p.m.