SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – It will be a happy plane ride home for Yale (9-4) after an exhilarating 64-60 win over UC Santa Barbara (5-8) to cap off the team's California trip. The team finishes 2016 on a positive note and enters the upcoming Ivy League season with plenty of confidence after its biggest comeback win of the season.
The Bulldogs got off to a strong start defensively, holding the Gauchos to 31.3% from the field in the first quarter. Senior Lena Munzer finished the period by going coast-to-coast for a buzzer-beating layup, which gave Yale a 15-12 lead.
The Gauchos responded with a strong 2nd quarter, during which they went on a 13-0 run to take the lead. After Yale senior Meghan McIntyre's 3-pointer tied the game at 30, UC Santa Barbara sophomore Coco Miller's long-distance shot with 35 seconds left punctuated the frame and gave the Gauchos a 33-30 halftime lead. Miller finished the game with a team-high 15 points.
UC Santa Barbara stretched the lead to as many as 12 points in the 3rd quarter before Yale mounted its comeback. The Bulldogs trimmed the deficit to 5 before Coco Miller made what appeared to be a game-sealing 3-pointer with 3:59 to play, putting the Gauchos up 8.
But Yale was unfazed, as McIntyre responded by hitting a jump shot, and fellow senior Elizabeth Haley followed that with a layup to put the Bulldogs within 4. After UC Santa Barbara's Onome Jemerigbe hit a jump shot, McIntyre answered with one of her own. On Yale's next possession, Lena Munzer nailed a 3-pointer, and suddenly the Bulldogs were down just 1 point with 1:25 remaining.
UC Santa Barbara was called for traveling on the ensuing possession. With 42 seconds left, Haley made another layup to give Yale its first lead since the 2nd quarter. The Bulldogs made key stops on defense down the stretch and hit three free throws in the final seconds to secure the victory.
The 12-point comeback win is Yale's largest of the season, and it is the team's second double-digit comeback win, after erasing an 11-point deficit to beat Holy Cross in overtime back in November.
Munzer led the Bulldogs with 18 points and five assists, and she tied junior Jen Berkowitz for the team lead with 7 rebounds. McIntyre scored 14 points, and Haley scored in double digits for the first time in her career.
After the game, Haley said, "Coming into California bringing Meg McIntyre and Paige Vermeer home we all had a lot of family in the stands, so it meant a lot to get out there and play well showing off Bulldog basketball. We had a few good practices and really worked on finishing at the basket so that helped me focus up and hit some layups at the end of the game."
She added, "It meant a lot going into 2017 to pull out a tough road win against a really good transition team. Now we can go into these next two weeks preparing for the Ivy League with a lot of intensity and energy stemming from this."
Next up, Yale returns to the east coast and hits the practice court in early January before returning to game action for the start of Ivy League play. Yale begins its conference slate with back-to-back road games at Penn and Princeton on Jan. 13 and 14, respectively.
Filed by Andy Dougherty, Yale Sports Publicity