"This is the team we have been looking for - an MSU team that plays together and plays hard," said head coach Sharon Fanning. "We rushed down the stretch. This was the first time we have been in a position to win a game in the clutch. I was pleased with the team I saw compete tonight. The next step is to be patient and finish."
Junior guard Tan White and senior forward Seneca Anderson combined for the first 11 points of the second half. Anderson scored 11 of her 13 total points in the second. White finished with a game-high 22 points, including seven-of-eight from the charity stripe.
Starting at 8:27 in the second, White ignited the MSU offense with an 8-0 run including two fast break lay-ups and four free throws that gave MSU its largest lead of the game at 60-53. UCSB then returned seven points of its own to tie it back up at 60-60. It was then tied up at 62-62, but the Gauchos came on strong in the end.
After opening up the game with a quick four points and the Gauchos returning to take the lead, the fast pace was set for a close contest. With the aid of two three-pointers off the bench from senior guard Jessica Carter, MSU went on a 10-0 run during a five minute Gaucho scoring drought in the first half from 10:53-5:52 to pull the Lady Bulldogs to 23-20. Santa Barbara answered back and scored a quick six points to put them up 26-23.
State played big on the inside with great help defense on the 6-8 Lindsey Taylor, holding her to four first half points. Sophomore forward Mamie McKinney went five-for-five from the field underneath in the first and finished up with her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. McKinney hit six straight points to tie it at 31-31 with 1:31 left on the clock in the first. MSU went into the lockerroom with a steal and lay-up by White going up 33-31.
"I think we lost our composure and had rushed shots," said White. "We played at a faster pace in the last five minutes than we should have. We had a chance to win but had a couple of key turnovers in the end."
UCSB's Lisa Willett was a perfect four-for-four from the floor including three 3-pointers and two free throws for 13 first half points, 15 for the game. Kristen Mann and Lindsay Taylor were the other Gauchos in double figures with 17 and 12 points respectively.
The Lady Bulldogs come home to host Illinois Sunday, Jan. 4 with tip-off slated for 12:40 p.m. CT on CBS.