With 4:38 remaining in the game, Cal.-Santa Barbara forward Kristen Mann hit her second consecutive shot, extending the Gauchos’ lead to eight. In Santa Barbara coach Mark French’s mind, the fat lady was hitting her high note.
“I thought maybe we were going to blow them out there,” French said. “We had momentum going, and we had them by eight.”
But the youthful Michigan squad stayed calm and erased the late-deficit, eventually winning the game over No. 25 Santa Barbara, 70-64.
In the first half, Michigan rode the back of sophomore forward Tabitha Pool, who led both teams in scoring after 20 minutes. Pool’s 12 points and a 6-0 Michigan run to end the half left both teams deadlocked at 31 with one half to go.
Ten minutes into the second half, the Gauchos took control of the game. Santa Barbara gained its biggest lead, 60-51, at 8:05. During this stretch, the Wolverines had a lot of trouble taking care of the ball. In the game, the Santa Barbara defense helped cause 24 Michigan turnovers.
“Our game plan going into the game was to try and pressure their young guards, and maybe see if we could try to create enough pressure to gain some turnovers,” French said.
Although Santa Barbara began to pull ahead, Michigan would not go away. One thing that kept the Wolverines in the game was their relentless effort on the boards as they beat the Gauchos in rebounding, 49-29.
“Coach Guevara kept up with us, and she told us to never let our head down,” Andrews said. “She told us we had a lot of time left, and we could pull it out. So that gave us faith. She was still with us even though we were down by seven or eight. We believed in her, and we listened to what she said.”
Then, after the aforementioned outburst by Mann, Michigan roared back.
With 3:28 left in regulation, Andrews drove hard to the hoop and converted a shot after being fouled. After making the free throw, Michigan trailed the Gauchos 64-59.
In the Wolverines’ next possession, senior LeeAnn Bies received the ball, and the Santa Barbara defense converged on her. Junior Stephanie Gandy felt the defense leave her, and relocated behind the 3-point arc.
“I just found an open spot,” Gandy said. “Bies had three people on her, and I called for the ball. I was wide open, because they were collapsing so hard on our post people all game. And it was just up to me to hit the big shot.”
Gandy nailed the open three and cut the deficit to 64-62.
With a minute remaining, Gandy smoothly hit two free throws, and tied the game at 64. Thirty seconds later, Andrews stepped to the charity stripe and downed both of her attempts, giving the Wolverines their first lead of the second half.
After a Gauchos’ timeout, the Wolverines stuffed Santa Barbara on their ensuing possession. After harnessing the rebound, Pool was fouled with nine seconds remaining. Having not scored since the first half, the Ann Arbor native iced the game making both free throws.
“We practice free throws everyday in practice,” Pool said. “It was a big challenge, and I had to focus.”