February 9, 2008

UCSB Wins 11th Straight With 77-69 Victory At UC Irvine

Feb. 9, 2008

Box Score

IRVINE, Calif. - Kat Suderman scored a career-high 22 points and Jessica Wilson bounced back from an off night to finish with a season-best 21 as UC Santa Barbara improved to 10-0 in Big West play with a 77-69 victory over UC Irvine Saturday afternoon at the Bren Events Center. The Gauchos shot a blistering 54.2% from the floor on the way to their 11th straight win.

UCSB, which is riding its longest winning streak since the 2001-02 season, improved to 15-6 overall with the victory and has claimed its first 10 conference games for the first time in seven years. UCI lost for the 14th time in its last 16 games and falls to 6-18 overall and 2-6 in the Big West.

Suderman and Wilson combined to shoot 18-of-22 from the field, 82%, to lead the way for a Santa Barbara team that converted 32-of-59 shots, 54.2%, a new season-high.

After finishing with 15 points and 11 rebounds in the Gauchos' win at Cal State Fullerton Thursday night, Suderman turned in absolutely dominant performance against the Anteaters. The San Luis Obispo, Calif. native was 11-of-14 from the field on the way to a career-high 22 points. Her previous high was 19 that came in UCSB's win at Long Beach State January 3 and the 11 field goals made is also a new career mark.

Wilson struggled from the floor against the Titans Thursday, finishing with a season-low three points on 0-for-9 shooting, but responded with a tremendous effort against Irvine Saturday. The Gauchos' leading scorer finished 7-of-8 from the field, including 2-of-2 from the three-point line, for a season-high 21 points. Wilson also led UCSB with six rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

After hanging tough with the Gauchos in a 76-68 loss in the Thunderdome on January 10, the Anteaters came out inspired on their home floor and took a 6-5 lead following a jumper by Rebecca Maessen a little more than three minutes in.

Santa Barbara and Irvine battled through most of the first period and the score was tied 26-26 with 4:22 left when UCSB scored eight unanswered points - six by Wilson - to take a 34-26 lead with 2:21 remaining in the half. Despite 52% shooting from the home team in the first 20 minutes, the Gauchos took a 38-31 lead into the locker room at intermission.

After Maessen opened the second half with a long three to cut the Anteater deficit to four, Wilson responded with a three of her own to ignite an 11-5 Santa Barbara run over the next three minutes as the Gauchos took a 49-39 lead with 16:48 remaining. UCSB went on to open it up and took a 20-point lead (65-45) with 10:15 left to play after Margaret Johnson and Suderman combined to hit four consecutive jumpers.

Irvine would not roll over however, and outscored Santa Barbara 14-4 in the final four minutes to close within eight, 77-69, at the final buzzer.

Junior forward Kelly Cochran led all players with a career-high 24 points, finishing 11-of-22 from the floor, but it wasn't enough to get the Anteaters over the hump against the league-leading Gauchos. Stephanie Duda, the Big West Conference's leading rebounder, finished with 19 points and a game-high 13 boards, and Maessen tallied 10 points and four assists for UCI.

Johnson had her best game in the blue and gold, posing career-highs with eight points and seven rebounds in a career-best 18 minutes. Lauren Pedersen finished with six points and a game-high eight assists.

UCSB barely won the battle on the boards, 34-33 and allowed 14 Anteater offensive rebounds.

The Gauchos will take a brief break from Big West play with their final non-conference game of the 2007-08 regular season this Wednesday when Cal State Bakersfield comes to town. Tip-off for the game is 7:00 p.m. Santa Barbara will then host Cal Poly Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.