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Gauchos hold back UCI

UCSB withstands two rallies to end Anteaters' home unbeaten streak and drop them to second in Big West Conference.

January 13, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com
(Kent Treptow / Daily…)

IRVINE — The only four-letter acronym in the Big West Conference is UC Santa Barbara. But for an emerging UC Irvine women's basketball program, it might as well be UC Stumbling Block.

The visiting Gauchos, who came in with a 216-27 conference record since the 1995-96 season, and had won 17 of their previous 18 contests against UCI, extended that dominance with a 69-58 victory Thursday night at the Bren Events Center.

The win knocked the Anteaters (11-5, 3-1 in conference) out of a first-place tie with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (4-0 in the Big West), which visits UCI on Saturday. It also was the first UCI loss in eight home games this season and it halted a five-game winning streak.

UCSB (9-7, 3-1) overcame a season-worst 29 turnovers by stifling the hosts with defense and by connecting on 51% of the field-goal attempts they did get, 56% in the second half.

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UCI mounted a pair of comebacks, first erasing a 19-8 lead then paring a 10-point deficit early in the second half to within 44-41 with 8:33 left in the game.

But UCSB which has now won nine straight against UCI, kept doing whatever it needed to tighten the upper half of the conference standings.

"I didn't think we were very good," UCI Coach Molly Goodenbour said. "I thought Santa Barbara did a very good job of being prepared for us and they took us out of our offensive rhythm. I thought we were a little more tentative on the offensive end than we have been."

UCI, which went three for its first 23 from the field, went a stretch of 14:19 in the first half with only one field goal, incurring a 19-8 deficit.

But the reserve tandem of juniors Tayler Champion and Kassandra McCalister exploded to account for an 11-0 UCI run in just 1:48 to knot the score with 2:25 left in before intermission.

Champion had two three-pointers and a traditional three-point play during the burst, which also included a three-point play by McCalister. Champion and McCalister, both first-year Anteaters after transferring from Oregon State, finished with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Champion, whose previous single-game best was eight points, was five of seven from the field, including three of four from three-point range. Her only two misses were both desperation heaves after receiving a pass before the 30-second shot clock went off.

McCalister matched her season-high scoring output and added a team-high six steals.

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