March 12, 2010
The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team saw its season come to an end on Friday afternoon at the Big West Tournament, the fifth-seeded Gauchos falling to No. 1 seed UC Davis in the semifinals, 63-53. The defeat marks the first time since the 1996 tournament that UCSB will not play in the final game.
The season-long turnover bug caught up to the Gauchos again on Friday, after UCSB had controlled the tempo and the ball in its first two victories of the Big West Tournament. UCSB committed 29 turnovers in the game - including 19 in the first half - yet still remained close to UC Davis throughout.
Meagan Williams, who finished with a game-high 17 points, had a midcourt steal and layup that cut the Aggies' lead to 53-51 with 3:21 to go. However UC Davis scored three straight baskets and from there the Gauchos were forced to foul, ending UCSB's hopes of making it to Saturday's championship game.
"I'm really proud of my players and the team they've become," head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "They taught me what it means to believe in something. We were 0-4 and people were starting to question us. ... That would have been hard for me if I didn't come to work everyday and see this group as they were so resilient and nothing but positive and nothing but a great work ethic and that's something I'm going to remember for the rest of my life."
The Gauchos finish their season 15-17 while UC Davis improves to 21-9. While UCSB extended its streak of a winning conference record for the 20th consecutive season, the Gauchos finished with an overall record under .500 for the first time since the 1989-90 season.
UCSB battled back in the second half, after trailing at halftime by 14. A 17-5 run brought the Gauchos within a basket after Williams' steal. In that run Chris Spencer hit a 3-pointer while Williams had three baskets. Mekia Valentine, who had her third straight double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, made a layup and Ariana Gnekow drilled a 3-pointer before Williams' steal and layin.
Unfortunately for the Gauchos, they couldn't hold the momentum.
The men's team, seeded No. 1, will battle UC Davis on Friday at 6:30 p.m. New this year, UCSB Athletics is making it easier than ever for fans to follow both the men's and women's basketball teams. Aside from live streaming audio of all the men's and women's games, fans can get in-game updates through our Twitter page at twitter.com/UCSBgauchos. Get highlight videos and behind-the-scenes looks of both teams through our our YouTube page at youtube.com/UCSBGauchosAthletics. And, be sure to join our growing legion of fans at facebook.com/UCSBAthletics. Also be sure to add Olé as a friend by searching "Olé Gaucho" on Facebook.