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UC Santa Barbara Edges Cal Poly 44-42 for Blue-Green Rivalry Win

UC Santa Barbara Edges Cal Poly 44-42 for Blue-Green Rivalry Win

ISLA VISTA, Calif. — Cal Poly held a 34-29 lead midway through the fourth quarter at UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday night, but the Gaucho women's basketball team rallied late to pick up a 44-42 win inside The Thunderdome, taking sole possession of eighth place in the Big West Conference standings while earning a Blue-Green Rivalry split for the season.

Junior forward Alicia Roufosse provided Cal Poly an 11-5 lead almost eight minutes from the opening tip, en route to a 12-9 advantage by the close of the first quarter. The Mustangs, who ended the first half up 21-18, battled through a back-and-forth third quarter, using a jumper by senior center Devin Stanback to head to the fourth ahead 32-29.

Neither team allowed the other to score until 6:31 remained in the final quarter, when Roufosse added a layup to give Cal Poly its five-point lead, prompting a UCSB timeout.

Returning to the floor from the timeout, the Gauchos (7-20, 4-10) secured an offensive rebound of a Tal Sahar 3-point try and drew a foul, leading to Coco Miller sinking a pair of free throws to cut the Mustang lead to 34-31 with 5:48 to play. Sahar then returned to knock down a 3-pointer at the 5:07 mark, tying the game at 34-all.

Senior forward Katie Nunnelley answered with a 3, regaining the lead (37-34) for Cal Poly (6-19, 3-11) with 4:34 left, but just 18 seconds later, Gaucho center Natalia Bruening converted a 3-point play with the basket-plus-the-foul, tying the game back up once more.

The Gauchos moved in front 39-37 with back-to-back free throws by Danae Miller with 3:14 remaining, and then tacked on two more free throws via Bri Anugwom with 2:45 on the clock for a 41-37 lead. Junior forward Hana Vesela brought Cal Poly within 41-39 with a basket inside at the 2:38 mark, but both squads went scoreless until 1:08 remained, at which point Coco Miller made two free throws to place the margin back at four.

Then with 48 seconds remaining, senior point guard Dye Stahley hit a 3-pointer to bring the Mustangs within a point, 43-42.

After a Gaucho miss on the next possession, Cal Poly called timeout with 16.1 seconds left to draw up a potential game-winning look. Stahley drove into the paint and found Roufosse, who then passed back to Stahley outside of the key, where her attempt rimmed off, caroming into the arms of UCSB's Megan Ormiston with only 1.5 seconds to play.

Ormiston missed her first attempt, but made the latter free throw for the 44-42 lead.

The Mustangs called one last timeout with 1.2 seconds left, before Vesela drew a foul during the inbound from Danae Miller jostling for positioning in the key. Vesela's two free-throw attempts bounced off, however, as both teams fought for the rebound as time expired, leaving UCSB with the win.

Vesela finished with a team-high 11 points, while Nunnelley grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. Cal Poly, which entered the evening coming off of a 69-58 win against Cal State Fullerton, won the first Blue-Green matchup of the season on Jan. 12, 75-67 in San Luis Obispo.

In order to stay alive for the eight-team upcoming Big West Tournament, the Mustangs will need at least one win during their final two regular-season games coupled with UCSB losses to invoke potential tiebreaker scenarios with the Gauchos — or two straight victories paired with three-consecutive losses by either Fullerton or Long Beach State (tied at 5-8 in the next two spots) to call tiebreakers into play with those two. Because the Mustangs split with all three foes this year, nullifying head-to-head tiebreaker criteria with the trio, the next step in tiebreaker procedures would be how each school fared against the rest of the conference from first place on down.

Cal Poly returns to Mott Athletics Center at 2 p.m. Saturday to host second-place CSUN (14-12, 8-4) for Senior Day. Following the home finale against the defending Big West Tournament champion Matadors, the Mustangs will travel to first-place UC Davis (19-6, 11-1) to conclude the regular season Wednesday, March 6.

March 2 will also be a Poly Play Day at Mott, as kids are invited to an annual pregame carnival at 12:30 p.m. in the Stampede Club Tent, followed by free admission for youth (13-and-under). There will also be a prize raffle during Saturday afternoon's game (with proceeds benefitting Jack's Helping Hand), with the grand-prize winner announced at halftime.

File Photo © David E. Holmes