Gauchos Use Furious 16-3 Run to Come From Behind, Defeat Cal Poly 52-50

Coco Miller (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Coco Miller (Photo by Jeff Liang)

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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Junior point guard Danae Miller scored what was the eventual game-winning shot with 11 seconds remaining and redshirt senior guard Coco Miller matched her career-high of seven made three-pointers as the Gauchos bested Cal Poly 52-50 on Saturday afternoon at the Thunderdome to claim their first win in Big West Conference play.

"We still get in lulls where we're not as aggressive, and give [Cal Poly] credit as well for doing a good job, but we showed some toughness on the glass on the backside and we were aggressive in those moments," said UCSB head coach Bonnie Henrickson after the game.

UCSB (6-9, 1-1 Big West) opened on a 7-0 run and rapidly grew it to a 18-10 lead by the end of the first quarter, thanks to two deep connections from Coco Miller and one from Johnni Gonzalez.

Cal Poly took the lead in the second quarter while holding the Gauchos to just one point over the first seven and a half minutes in the second quarter, until Coco Miller knocked down a triple to regain the lead temporarily at 22-21.

The Mustangs snatched it right back, with Kirsty Brown converting on the second chance off the glass to start a 7-2 run that would last until halftime as the visitors took a 28-24 lead into the break.

Santa Barbara ran into more offensive trouble in the third quarter, as the Mustangs again ran the show in the first five minutes, outscoring the Gauchos 8-3 prior to the media timeout to expand their lead to a 36-27 scoreline.

Coco Miller helped the Gauchos cut into the lead with a three-pointer from the left wing, but Cal Poly converted on its next three possessions to achieve its largest lead of the afternoon at 42-30 before Coco Miller put away another trey to close out the quarter with UCSB down nine.

Cal Poly got the lead back up to 11 with just over two minutes gone in the fourth quarter, and neither team scored for nearly three minutes until Danae Miller pulled up for a jumper in the paint with 5:34 left as she looked to kickstart a comeback.

After the next Mustang possession, Mira Shulman found some space on the left wing and deposited a triple to cut the lead to six. Following the timeout at the under-five, Danae Miller hit a pullup jumper before Coco Miller hit two three-pointers in a row, her sixth and seventh of the game, to complete a 13-0 run that spanned just under three minutes to take the lead at 49-47.

That effort from the Gauchos was nearly all for naught after Chantel Govan hit a triple to give Cal Poly the advantage once again at the two-minute mark.

With more trouble on the ball on the horizon, UCSB was left to foul in the final minute of the game. With Cal Poly in the bonus, the Gauchos twice sent Mustang guard Abbey Ellis to the charity stripe for two shots, and each time she missed both of her attempts as UCSB remained within one point.

As time continued to tick, Danae Miller drove to the basket and put in a layup, drawing a foul in the process, with just eleven seconds left to put the Gauchos ahead 52-50 after completing the three-point play at the free throw line.

Cal Poly triggered the ball in from the sideline to set up a last-second shot and Ellis was the one who was tasked with heaving it, looking for the game-winner from beyond the arc, but her shot fell short and the rebound was brought down by the Gauchos as time expired.

The Gauchos take to the road for their next two Big West Conference games, traveling to UC Irvine on Thursday night and UC Riverside on Saturday. Both games are slated to tip off at 7 p.m.

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