SAN DIEGO, Calif. – 364 days after their last meeting with San Diego State, it was the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team that emerged victorious once again with a 63-58 win on Friday afternoon at Viejas Arena.
Sophomore point guard Danae Miller and redshirt junior guard Coco Miller both had career days in terms of scoring, with 16 and 29 respectively, to lead the Gauchos (3-9) to their third win of the season over the Aztecs (5-6).
"We had great energy. We executed, shared the ball, moved the ball, answered a few runs they made, and survived some foul trouble," remarked UCSB Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson in her postgame interview on UCSB's internet radio stream.
The Gauchos began the game on a 12-0 run, thanks in part to Coco Miller converting on both of her first two three-point attempts.
The momentum carried over into the end of the first quarter as UCSB held a 23-11 advantage after 10 minutes.
In the second quarter, the Gauchos were held offensively as the Aztecs showed their comeback ability they displayed in the fourth quarter of their previous game at CSUN.
After sophomore guard Bri Anugwom made a free throw to put the Gauchos ahead 27-13 with 8:08 to go in the second quarter, the Aztecs went on a 14-5 run, with five different players scoring, to close the gap to just five points at the half.
The Gauchos attacked the beginning of the third quarter just like they did the first and were able to extend their lead back up to 13 after Danae Miller drew a foul on a made basket and put away her free throw with just under seven minutes to go in the quarter.
San Diego State would make it a five-point game once again with 7:51 left in the fourth quarter after Mallory Adams made a layup through traffic.
Just over a minute later, a pair of layups from Zayn Dornstauder and Adams pulled the Aztecs within one, making the score the closest it had been between the two teams since the opening whistle.
On the following possession, Coco Miller banked a crucial shot in off the glass to give the Gauchos some room to breathe, and then made another with 4:26 left in regulation to keep UCSB in the driver's seat with a 55-50 lead.
The Gauchos capped off a 15-for-17 performance from the free throw line, their third time in four games shooting 85% or better from the charity stripe, by making their last eight in the final minutes of the game to seal their first road win of the season.
Coco Miller's 29-point career-high performance was also her fourth time crossing the 20-point barrier this season.
"Coco was in command early. She had great rhythm in the game and I'm really proud of her," Henrickson said of her play.
The victory was only the third-ever away win for the Gauchos in their all-time series with the Aztecs.
The UCSB team will take a break for the holidays, but return to action on Sunday, December 30 as they welcome New Mexico State to the Thunderdome. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.