Junior point guard Danae Miller made an old-fashioned three-point play with 11 seconds remaining, and Coco Miller matched a career-high with seven 3-pointers to lead the UCSB women’s basketball team to a 52-50 win over Central Coast rival Cal Poly on Saturday afternoon at the Thunderdome.
Danae Miller drove down the right side of the lane for a layup and a foul — which led to a made free throw for the eventual game-winning points. The Gauchos finished the contest on a 16-3 run, something that was needed for a victory after UCSB trailed by 12 with 1:53 remaining in the third quarter.
“That was a sleeper, huh?” Gaucho coach Bonnie Henrickson joked after the game. “We became more aggressive and played with more emotion. … I’m excited for our fans. It was loud in here. That was a really nice crowd for us to have here today, and that really helped us.”
Coco Miller played a huge role in the 16-3 fourth-quarter run with a pair of 3-pointers. The senior guard finished with a game-high 24 points to go along with five rebounds and three assists.
“I just had to do what I could to get the win for the team,” Coco Miller said. “We wanted that one on Thursday. We didn’t get it, so we wanted to come back and get the win here today.”
Miller was referring to the Gauchos’ 70-68 overtime loss at home to Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Conference opener for both teams.
On Saturday, things looked dire again for UCSB after the Gauchos managed only six points in the second quarter and nine in the third to trail by double digits. But the tandem of Miller and Miller rallied UCSB (6-9, 1-1 Big West) to its first conference victory of the season.
“We have a history of poor third quarters, but it kind of shows a lot about our team and our character and how much we’ve grown from the beginning of the season, to be able to pull out this win,” Coco Miller said.
“In our league this year it looks like it’s going to be a tight race the entire season, so it’s good to get this one. Now we move on to the next one on Thursday.”
UCSB opened the game on a 7-0 run and led 18-10 after the first quarter.
But Cal Poly ended the first half on a 7-2 run to lead 28-24 at the break. Coco Miller scored all six points for the Gauchos in that second quarter. Things got worse in the third quarter for the home team after the Mustangs outscored UCSB, 14-9, in the period to take a 42-33 lead into the fourth quarter.
“We still have it where we go into lulls and we’re not as aggressive,” Henrickson said. “Part of that is you have to give (Cal Poly) credit. They did a good job putting the pressure on us.
“We didn’t do a good job being aggressive and attacking in the second and third quarters. It was so frustrating because we were not being aggressive. They played well and we just weren’t aggressive enough.”
Once the Gauchos did become more aggressive in the fourth quarter, things started to work out for them.
“Once we started the aggressive attack, I thought we could get to the rim and get to the free-throw line, and it’s just what we did,” Henrickson said.
UCSB ended up shooting 38% (18 of 47) compared to 36% (20-for-55) for Cal Poly. The Gauchos didn’t do themselves any favors with 16 turnovers, but they did just enough in the fourth quarter and at the end of the game to go home happy.