February 4, 2006

Gauchos Dig Deep for 80-71 Triumph at Cal Poly

Feb. 4, 2006

Box Score

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - After trailing Central Coast rival Cal Poly for three halves of play this season, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team finally had enough Saturday afternoon and rallied for an 80-71 victory in Mott Gymnasium.

By avenging a home loss to the Mustangs on Jan. 21, UCSB moved into sole possession of second place in the Big West Conference at 6-2, and pushed its overall record to three games above .500 for the first time all season at 11-8. CP fell to 10-8 and 5-3 in league play.

Trailing 59-52 with under eight minutes to play, the Gauchos stormed back with a 9-0 run ignited by back-to-back three-pointers by Ana Onaindia. When fellow sophomore guard Jessica Wilson completed an old-fashioned three-point play at the 5:52 mark, Santa Barbara held a 61-59 advantage, its first lead since the latter stages of the first half.

The visitors' celebration was short-lived, however, as Cal Poly tallied the next four points courtesy of buckets by Michelle Henke and Jessica Eggelston. The lead then changed hands twice more before UCSB senior guard Karena Bonds came off a screen and buried a three-pointer from the top of the key, putting her squad back on top at 66-65 with 3:24 remaining. That clutch basket keyed a dominating 9-0 spurt spanning over two and a half minutes that also included four points from freshman point guard LaShay Fears.

Meanwhile on the opposite end of the court the home team was busy missing five straight shots and committing a pair of turnovers as Santa Barbara pulled away. The Mustangs pulled back within five points on two occasions, but UCSB nailed eight-of-10 free-throws within the final 1:05 to preserve its come-from-behind win.

As was the case in the Thunderdome two weeks earlier, Santa Barbara stumbled out of the gate as CP enjoyed an early 8-0 run spanning more than four minutes and held all Gauchos other than Jenna Green scoreless for nearly nine minutes to open the game. The visitors dug out of their early hole to take a brief 27-26 lead with 4:16 to play before halftime, but Cal Poly tallied six of the next seven points and then five straight to close the period and take a 36-31 cushion into the locker rooms. The Gauchos committed 15 first-half turnovers and surrendered 10 offensive rebounds before intermission.

UCSB reached the 80-point plateau for the first time since a Dec. 19 win over Arizona, and had four players score in double-figures for just the third time all season. Fears tallied 16 of her career-high-tying 20 points during the second half, while Green scored 19 and added 12 rebounds for her fourth career double-double. Wilson also enjoyed a double-dip in the form of 15 points and a personal best 13 boards, equaling the most by a Gaucho in any game this season. By sinking four-of-eight three-point attempts, Onaindia matched her previous career high of 12 points.

The Mustangs were led by Sarah Grieve's 17 points as the senior forward made eight-of-11 shots on the afternoon. Henke tallied 13 for Cal Poly, which shot just 38.0% as a team.

The Gauchos season-long five-game road trip concludes next week with a pair of non-conference games in Northern California. Up first is a Thursday, Feb. 9 showdown with 15th-ranked Stanford. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. in Maples Pavilion.

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