Cal Poly women’s basketball dropped their eighth straight game 63-42 to UC Santa Barbara on Thursday, Jan. 6 inside Mott Athletics Center in the first of two Green-Blue rivalry games this season.

Coming off a postponed game against Cal State Fullerton, the Mustangs (1-10, 0-2 Big West) looked to take down their Central Coast rival Gauchos (7-3, 1-0 Big West), but fell short despite junior forward Julia Nielacna’s 16 points.

Both teams started very slow offensively, as the Mustangs shot 3-14 from the field in the first while the Gauchos shot 3-18. However, it was Megan Anderson and Johnni Gonzalez who drained threes to put the Gauchos up by six, 13-7, at the end of the first quarter. 

Santa Barbara increased their lead to 14 points after a dominating run to start the second quarter. However, a couple of buckets from junior guard Maddie Vick and sophomore guard Junie Dickson in the last three minutes of the half kept the game within 10 points for the Mustangs going into the break at 28-18.

The beginning of the third quarter paralleled the start of the second, with Santa Barbara stretching their lead to 18 points just three minutes in as the Gauchos seemed to be pulling away.

However, the Mustangs didn’t go down without a fight. With graduate senior Kirsty Brown, Vick and Nielacna leading the way, Cal Poly mounted a 16-2 run in the third to bring the game to within four points. Six of the eight shots made by the Mustangs during this run came from inside the paint.

The story of the game, however, was Santa Barbara’s response to every Mustang run. The Gauchos answered this run with a quick five-point stretch of their own to end the third quarter up 45-36. They then kept rolling into the fourth, outscoring the Mustangs 18-6 in the quarter while they shot 7-13 from the field. 

Without a way to shoot themselves back into the game, the Mustangs fell behind by 21 points and lost by a final score of 63-42. 

The lack of outside shooting hurt the Mustangs, as the Gauchos were able to sink into a zone defense predicated on defending the paint. Excluding free throw points, the Mustangs scored 30 of their 34 points within the paint and went 0-10 from beyond the arc.

Cal Poly will look to get their first conference win on Saturday, Jan 8 at 2 p.m. inside Mott Athletics Center as they take on Cal State University Northridge in Northridge’s first Big West Conference game of the year.

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