SANTA BARBARA — The UCLA women hadn't played at Santa Barbara since 1985. And after Saturday's performance, it will probably be another 20 years before they come back.
The No. 24 Bruins may have been the ranked team, but they certainly didn't look like it in a stunning 90-81 overtime loss to the Gauchos at the Thunderdome.
They let a 16-point second-half lead dissolve to a team with seven freshmen and sophomores that had won only one game before Saturday. UCLA still had a lead, 74-72, with seven seconds to play, and Nikki Blue could have secured a win at the free-throw line. But she missed both attempts, allowing the Gauchos' Jessica Wilson to drive down the court and score a layup at the buzzer to force overtime.
The extra five minutes were a waste for the Bruins (5-4). They scored only one basket in overtime, and seven points total. Wilson, a sophomore, had 11 points during that stretch to lead the Gauchos (2-6) with 21 points.
"This ranks right up there" among the big wins Gaucho Coach Mark French said he has seen in his 19 years at Santa Barbara.
"And to have that happen against UCLA, and all that means in the basketball world, makes it a very, very good one," he said.
In the first half, UCLA looked rusty. The Bruins, who were missing starting forward Amanda Livingston because of flu-like symptoms, shot 41.4% (12 for 29) and committed 11 turnovers.
UCLA had its biggest lead, 63-47, with 11:55 to play. But instead of wilting, the Gauchos went on a 21-4 tear over the next six minutes.
The Bruins could never get the basket or stop to put Santa Barbara away.
"Letting that lead in the second half slip away was the biggest thing," Bruin Coach Kathy Olivier said.
"I just felt we got in foul trouble and when we made some substitutions we didn't do a great job. And things just snowballed in the wrong direction."