January 3, 2008

UCSB Outlasts Long Beach State 70-62 In Conference Opener

Jan. 3, 2008

Box Score

LONG BEACH, Calif. - Kat Suderman led four players in double figures with a career-high 19 points as UC Santa Barbara defeated Long Beach State 70-62 in its Big West Conference opener Thursday night at the Walter Pyramid. The Gauchos forced a season-high 29 turnovers to win back-to-back games for the first time in 2007-08.

With the victory, UCSB climbs back to .500 at 6-6 overall and improves to 1-0 in league play after winning its 18th opener in the last 19 seasons. The Gauchos had won 17 consecutive Big West openers before losing 70-57 at UC Riverside last season. LBSU dropped its eighth decision in the last nine games and falls to 2-10 this season (0-1 Big West) with the loss.

After earning a spot on the Lady Griz Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team following a 15-point, seven-rebound performance in Santa Barbara's win over Ole Miss Dec. 29, Suderman continued to get it done in the post against the 49ers on Thursday. The San Luis Obispo, Calif. native finished 8-for-15 from the field on the way to a new career mark, eclipsing her previous high of 17 points that came at UC Irvine in January of 2006. She also finished with a season-high eight rebounds and a tied a career-high with two blocked shots.

Senior guard Jessica Wilson reached double figures for the first time since December 8 against Oregon, tallying 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting. Wilson also added four rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Fellow senior Chisa Ononiwu had a strong performance for the second consecutive game, shooting 6-of-9 overall for 13 points to go with six boards. Freshman forward Ashlee Brown was very productive in 13 minutes off the bench, matching a career-high with 10 points on the strength of a perfect 6-for-6 night at the free-throw line, all of which came in the second half.

UCSB struggled to get going against Long Beach State's 2-3 zone early on and quickly fell behind 9-2 after 4:45 of play. But the Gauchos turned things around and scored eight unanswered points on a Suderman baseline jumper and back-to-back three-pointers from Sha'Rae Gibbons and Lauren Pedersen over the next 1:40 to take a 10-9 advantage with 13:05 remaining in the opening period.

Santa Barbara then used a 16-5 run over the next seven minutes that was capped off with an Ononiwu triple to build a 26-14 lead. The Gauchos' advantage eventually ballooned to 16 points at 30-14 with 5:09 remaining following two free-throws from Meagan Williams.

But the 49ers did not roll over, outscoring UCSB 16-10 to close the half and trim six points off the deficit. Santa Barbara took a 40-30 advantage into the locker room at the break.

Momentum stayed with LBSU early in the second half as sophomore forward Ally Wade scored seven of the 49ers first 11 points to bring them within five at 46-41 with 16:22 left to play. After the two teams traded a pair of baskets and Long Beach State closed to within four following a three-point play by Lynea Calhoun, Brown scored inside and Suderman hit a jumper in the paint to put UCSB back in front by eight, 56-48.

The Gauchos continued to respond to the 49ers' bid for a comeback and outscored the home squad 10-4 to close the game after LBSU had pulled to within two with 5:10 remaining. Tyresha Calhoun hit a jumper, LaTorya Barbee scored three straight, and Brett Timmons hit a jumper in the paint as the 49ers scored seven unanswered points to pull within 60-58. But four Long Beach State turnovers down the stretch, four clutch Brown free-throws, and big back-to-back jumpers from Ononiwu in the final 4:35 sealed the victory for the Gauchos.

Wade finished 5-of-7 from the floor for 15 points to lead the 49ers, while Williams went 4-of-9 from the floor and 5-for-6 at the foul line for 13 points.

Long Beach State's inability to take care of the ball was definitely the story, as the Gauchos pulled out the victory despite shooting a lower percentage from the field and getting out-rebounded by the 49ers. For the game UCSB shot 43.5% (27-62), while LBSU was just under 48%, making 23 of 48 shots. Long Beach State hauled in 32 rebounds to Santa Barbara's 29, although the Gauchos did continue to attack the offensive glass, recording 14 offensive rebounds.

The 49ers' 29 turnovers was one more than UCSB forced against both BYU and USC in the first week of the season. The Gauchos finished with 17 miscues - with just six coming in the decisive second half.

Santa Barbara continues Big West action at Cal State Northridge Saturday at 4:00 p.m.

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