UC Irvine Rallies in Second Half to Upend Gauchos, 77-74

Chaya Durr (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Chaya Durr (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

IRVINE, Calif. – UC Irvine used a pair of 8-0 runs in the second half to overcome an early deficit and defeat the visiting UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team, 77-74, on Saturday night at the Bren Events Center.

The loss snaps a five-game winning streak for the Gauchos (6-10, 3-1 Big West), who had been unbeaten to start conference play, and spoils the return of all-conference point guard Drea Toler, who was making her season debut. UC Irvine improves to 9-7 overall and 1-1 in conference play with the win.

UCSB took an early 18-17 lead after the first quarter behind nine early points from senior forward Drew Edelman.

Toler made her presence felt with a few baskets in the second quarter and, along with Edelman, helped the Gauchos stretch their lead to double digits with a 31-21 advantage.

UCSB took a 37-31 lead into the break and remained out front midway through the third with a 49-41 lead.   

The Anteaters, however, began to mount a rally and after trailing 51-45 moments later, rattled off an 8-0 run to take a 53-51 lead after a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the third period.

Aliceah Hernandez started the fourth quarter on a strong note for the Gauchos with a three-pointer of her own to help UCSB retake the lead, but UC Irvine used yet another 8-0 run, highlighted by back-to-back three-pointers to pull ahead 63-56 and never looked back.

A handful of three-pointers down the stretch, including a pair from Akilah Jennings, kept the Gauchos within striking distance, but the Anteaters had an answer at every turn.

Edelman finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double, while Toler turned in a solid line of nine points, five assists, five rebounds and three steals in 24 minutes. Chaya Durr joined Edelman in double figures for the Gauchos with 11 points to go with four steals on the defensive end.  

UCI was led by 25 points from Morgan Green.

UCSB is back in action this Thursday, Jan. 18 at home against UC Davis (13-3, 3-0 Big West) at 7:00 p.m.