For only the second time in over 22 years, the Cal Poly women’s basketball team has beaten UC Santa Barbara.
Senior guard Michelle Henke scored a career-high 21 points, sinking five of ten 3-pointers, to lead the Mustangs to an 82-71 victory over the Gauchos on Saturday before 998 spectators at The Thunderdome.
It is Cal Poly’s first win since Feb. 9, 2001 when the Mustangs turned back the Gauchos 76-70 in Mott Gym. Cal Poly snapped an eight-game losing streak to UCSB and beat the Gauchos for the first time in Santa Barbara since Dec. 15, 1983, when the Mustangs won 57-52.
UC Santa Barbara still leads the all-time series 41-9.
Senior guard/forward Courtney Cameron added 16 points and junior forward Jessica Eggleston notched 15 as Cal Poly improved to 9-6 on the year and 4-1 in Big West play.
The Gauchos, led by Jessica Wilson with 22 points and Jenna Green with 18, fell to 8-8 and 3-2.
Cal Poly won by forcing 29 Gaucho turnovers, beating UCSB on the boards 50-35 and sinking nine of 21 three-pointers. Senior center Sarah Grieve grabbed nine boards for the Mustangs and Eggleston had eight. Green led the Gauchos with 13 rebounds.
The visitors held UCSB without a field goal for over eight minutes to open the game, building an early 18-7 lead following Henke’s 3-pointer. However, Cal Poly found itself in early foul trouble, and the Gauchos responded with an 11-3 run that included six consecutive made free-throws.
When freshman LaShay Fears converted a pair from the charity stripe with 8:20 to play before halftime her squad trailed just 22-21. Henke answered with another trifecta, and when Cameron connected from beyond the arc at the 4:36 mark, Cal Poly held a 37-27 advantage.
Cameron buried a long-range three-pointer as time expired on the first half to give the Mustangs a 49-37 cushion and all the momentum heading into the locker rooms. The visitors made eight-of-16 3-pointers and forced 19 UCSB turnovers before intermission.
The home team pulled within 59-52 midway through the final period when Wilson scored on an acrobatic layup, but Cal Poly tallied the next seven points to push their lead back into double-figures.
Trailing by 14 points with under four minutes to play, UCSB attempted one last rally, embarking on a quick 8-0 spurt ignited by junior Erin O’Bryan’s only three-pointer of the afternoon. The run pulled the Gauchos within 71-65 at the 3:08 mark, but a pair of Anderson free throws and a late trifecta by Henke sealed the Mustangs’ victory.
For the third time since 1995-96, UC Santa Barbara lost a Big West Conference game at home. The Gauchos also saw their six-game home winning streak snapped.
Cal Poly plays two more Big West games on the road next week, visiting Pacific on Thursday and Cal State Northridge on Saturday. The Mustangs play only one of their seven first-round Big West games at home.