SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team extended its winning streak against Cal State Fullerton to 40 games on Saturday afternoon with a 60-50 victory in the Thunderdome.
With the win, UCSB improves to 9-12 overall and 5-4 in Big West Conference play. The Titans fall to 7-14 and 3-6 in league games.
After building their lead to as many as 12 points in the first half, UCSB saw its advantage dwindle away as Fullerton came back to tie the game at 40-40 midway through the second.
With the game deadlocked, UCSB head coach Carlene Mitchell made a complete lineup change, bringing Jackie Luna-Castro, Kendra Morrison, Jasmine Ware, Madeline Campbell and Destini Mason off the bench with 9:56 to go in the game.
Ware immediately made her presence felt as she stole the ball and converted the fastbreak to regain the Gauchos' lead. The Titans were able to tie the game two more times before UCSB broke through with an 8-0 run. The Gaucho reserves did not let Fullerton get any closer than seven points down the stretch, helping secure the 60-50 victory.
"Typically I can say that when we win it is truly a team effort, but today I can say that and it is backed by the numbers," head coach Carlene Mitchell said. "The starters did a great job in the first half, but we started a bit slow and with a lack of intensity in the second half, and I want the young ones to understand that they always have to be ready and have their mind in the game. Today the second unit helped us pull of this win. I am extremely proud of the intensity and the focus that they came in with."
In the first half, the Gauchos fell behind early, 5-3, but the offense heated up and went on a 14-0 run to take the lead halfway through the stanza. The Titans cut their deficit to four points with a 7-2 run, but UCSB built its lead to a game-high 12 points with 1:48 to go in the stanza.
Heading into the locker rooms, the Gauchos were ahead, 28-18. Their first half output marked their second-best this season behind their 36 points against Loyola Marymount (Dec. 5). They also kept an opponent to fewer than 20 points in the first half for the seventh time this year.
Senior Kirsten Tilleman led the Gauchos as she put up a season-high 16 points to go along with eight rebounds, just short of her first double-double of the season. She had eight points and eight rebounds in the first half alone and she also made 8-of-8 from the charity stripe.
The Gauchos shot 52.6% (20-for-38) from the field. After making 100% of its first half free-throws (7-of-7), they struggled in the second, sinking just 12-of-22 to finish the game with a 65.5% clip from the charity stripe.
The Gauchos' 60 points mark the most they have scored at home this season. The win improves UCSB to 3-6 on its home court.
Fullerton finished the game shooting just 27.6% (16-of-58) from the field, though it out-rebounded the Gauchos, 40-30, with a 20-4 advantage in offensive boards. Lauren Bushong, who put up 11 points to go with five rebounds, led the Titans. Kathleen Iwuoha had 10 points and eight boards.
UCSB will hit the road again next week when it heads to UC Davis
on Thursday, Feb. 7 and Pacific on Saturday, Feb. 9. Both games
will air on UCSBgauchos.com and can be seen on BigWest.tv.
Saturday's game will air live on KZSB 1290 AM, the Santa
Barbara News-Press radio station.
Tickets for women's basketball are available at the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here.