SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Long Beach State entered the weekend as the conference's last remaining undefeated team since the start of Big West women's basketball play. That would change on Saturday afternoon though, thanks to a trio of 15-point Gaucho performances which led UCSB to its first conference win of the year, 60-54.
The win moved the Gauchos to 4-12 overall and 1-2 in conference, while the 49ers fell to 5-11, 2-1.
Natalia Bruening put together one of her best performances in recent weeks, leading the Gauchos with 16 points on a highly efficient 7-for-8 from the field. Guards Danae Miller and Coco Miller finished with 15 points apiece.
While she didn't have a big offensive game, sophomore guard Bri Anugwom came up huge on the glass, pulling down a career-high 14 rebounds to go along with her four points and two assists. Anugwom's efforts helped Santa Barbara to a 45-to-28 rebounding edge, its most lopsided margin of the season.
In what was an extremely close game throughout, neither team took more than a five-point advantage until the final minutes. With UCSB holding on tight leading 54-49 with less than three minutes to go, Danae Miller took it into her hands. Miller was the only Gaucho to touch the ball on the possession, eventually blowing past her defender and knocking down a momentum-shifting runner to beat the shot clock buzzer.
UCSB would go on to ice the game at the line after holding the 49ers to just one made basket over the final 8:30.
The Gaucho win came despite the fact that UCSB made a season-low 1-out-of-15 from three-point range, compared to 10-for-27 by the 49ers.
Santa Barbara did enjoy a solid night from the free throw line, knocking down 21-for-28. It was the third time this year that the Gauchos have made more than 20 from the line.
UCSB will remain at home for its next two games, when it takes on Cal State Fullerton and Hawaii next Thursday and Saturday.