The UCSB women’s basketball team came up big down the stretch on Saturday at the Thunderdome, outscoring Cal State Fullerton by 15 points over the final 17 minutes to win its first overtime game in over two years, 78-70.
During the home game, UCSB (8-4, 2-1) got clutch performances out of its top three scorers, led by point guard Danae Miller who had 12 of UCSB’s final 16 points. The senior notched her first career double-double, leading all players with 21 points and 11 rebounds while also dishing out a season-high six assists.
Junior center Ila Lane (16 points, 10 rebounds) recorded a double-double for the second consecutive outing, her conference-leading fifth of the season. Junior guard Alexis Tucker added 14 points on another efficient night off the bench.
Whereas in Thursday’s loss to Long Beach State, UCSB conceded a momentum-shifting 6-0 spurt to end the opening half, this time it was the Gauchos who closed strong. They trailed 33-24 with 4:24 left in the second, but would head into the half on a 10-2 run to trail 35-34.
The Titans (6-7, 1-2) pushed their lead back up to 50-43 with a couple minutes left in the third quarter. However, the Gauchos would score the final seven points of the period, five coming from freshman guard Kennedy Johnson whose tough buzzer-beating layup tied it at 50-50.
Miller, Lane and Tucker accounted for seven of UCSB’s final eight field goals. Lane tied it at 56-56 with a bucket over two defenders plus a foul at the 5:33 mark. The next time down, she put in a beautiful dropstep lefty hook off the glass to make it 59-56.
A cold-blooded corner three by Miller looked like it could be the dagger, and senior Taylor Mole hit two go-ahead free throws with 29 seconds to go, but Fullerton fought back to tie it twice in the final minute and send it to overtime.
Miller was the only Gaucho with a bucket in OT, where she scored nine of UCSB’s 11 points. A 15-foot pullup put the Gauchos ahead 69-67 on their first possession and they never looked back, ending the game on a 35-20 extended run.
Fullerton outshot the Gauchos for most of the night and had half of their turnover total (18-9), but a crushing UCSB advantage on the boards played a huge part in deciding the game.
The Gauchos nearly doubled the Titans 45-23 on the glass as Miller (career-high 11 rebounds) and Lane (10) became the first Gaucho duo to record double-doubles on the same night since Bri Anugwom and Taylor Mole on Dec. 27, 2020.
Miller tallied her 400th career assist early in the second half, becoming the seventh player in program history to reach that milestone. She now needs four assists to pass Barbara Beainy (404, 1988-92) for No. 6 all-time in a Gaucho jersey. It was also her 12th career 20-point game and her fourth 20-point, 6-assist outing.
Tucker connected on 6-of-9 field goal attempts, scoring in double-figures while shooting at least 50 percent for the seventh time in 11 games off the bench. At 51.2 percent shooting this year, she joins the Big West-leading Lane (57.4%) as the only Gauchos connecting at over 50 percent.
Sophomore guard Anya Choice tied Miller for game-high honors with a career-best six assists of her own. She is third on the team this year averaging 2.4 per game.
“Obviously we’ve got to get better defensively, but I was happy with our resilience and toughness,” Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “You can create those situations in practice, but in a real game it’s different. That’s why we’re serious about it on both ends of the floor, and it’s certainly good to go through those and find a way to win.”
UCSB will return to the road this week to play Thursday at UC Davis Thursday and Saturday at UC Riverside.
Michael Jorgenson writes about sports for UCSB.