DAVIS, Calif.- With the first meeting between the teams decided by a late run, one had to figure it'd be in the cards again.
Unfortunately for UCSB team, again it was Big West leader UC Davis that again pulled away in the fourth quarter, as the Gauchos fell 69-63 Saturday afternoon at the Pavilion.
"There were stretches where we were really good, we were aggressive, we pressured, and when we stopped pressuring they picked us apart," said head coach Bonnie Henrickson.
UCSB (7-11, 4-3) managed just one field goal and three points over the opening seven minutes of the fourth quarter, during which the host Aggies outscored the Gauchos 15-3. Trailing by one after three, UC Davis (17-3, 7-0) outscored UCSB 25-18 in the decisive last ten minutes.
Sarah Bates lead all scorers and equalled her career-high with 25 points, and set a new personal record for made three-pointers for the second game in a row by knocking down seven of 12 from beyond the arc.
"She's found better rhythm; sometimes you've got to slow down to be better, change of pace, move, jerk your defender around and she's gotten better that way," Henrickson said.
Still, it wasn't enough to overcome a Davis side which saw four scorers in double digits, and shot 54.9 percent from the field in the game. The Aggies controlled play inside the three point stripe, converting 57.9 percent of their two point attempts
After making 12 of 27 from the field in the first half, including six of 12 from downtown, UCSB had the clamps put on them in the second half. The Gauchos shot 32.3 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes, making just four of 14 attempts from inside while going six of 17 from beyond the arc.
UC Davis controlled the paint all game, outscoring UCSB 40-18 from inside, lead by 16 points from Morgan Bertsch while Rachel Nagel notched 15. After hitting the glass to the tune of a 19 to six rebound advantage at the half, the Gauchos were out-rebounded 21-14 in the second 20 minutes.
"From the ten minute mark to the four minute mark [of the fourth quarter] we weren't aggressive, we weren't attacking, we weren't getting to the free throw line, we weren't in transition, then we stopped rebounding," said Henrickson.
The momentum swinging buckets in the fourth came off the hands of Aggie senior Dani Nafekh, who scored eight of her ten points in the final frame, making a pair of triples in a near two minute stretch that helped turn a two point deficit in to a five point lead. Pele Gianotti had a slash-and-score as part of the run, and finished with 14 points.
Drew Edelman notched her fifth double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds, but managed just eight shots from the field under relentless double and triple teams from the collapsing Davis zone defense. Makala Roper came off the bench to convert on four of five from downtown to finish with 12 points. Outside of Bates, Edelman and Roper, the rest of the Gaucho lineup went four of 27 from the field.
The loss drops UCSB in to a tie for fourth place with CSUN, as both UC Irvine and Cal Poly won to remain even in second. The Gauchos welcome the Matadors to the Thunderdome on Wednesday, January 31st at 7 PM.
"For us, the focal point in finishing January and getting in to February is embracing the process and growing your game. It's the only way to have the results you want," Henrickson said.
"Every player, every staff member, all of us have to be intentional about getting better every day. This league is so balanced and it's so strong that you've got to get better by Wednesday."