Feb. 18, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Playing a regionally televised regular season home game for the first time in program history Saturday in the Thunderdome, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team put on a defensive show for the cameras which a resulted in a 46-43 victory over Long Beach State.
Appearing on Fox Sports Net West 2, the Gauchos surrendered their fewest points of the season and halted their three-game losing skid, improving to 12-11 overall and 7-3 in Big West Conference play. The triumph also avenged a 58-52 loss at LBSU in January. The 49ers - who have not won in Santa Barbara since 1991 - fell to 16-8 but remain atop the Big West standings at 9-3.
UCSB led wire-to-wire, opening an early 17-7 lead when sophomore guard Ana Onaindia drained a three-pointer with 12:50 to play in the first half. Long Beach scored the next four points courtesy of back-to-back baskets by Crystal McCutcheon but would pull no closer as the home team took a 30-20 lead into intermission. Santa Barbara held the 49ers to 25.9% shooting in the first half while owning a 27-16 rebounding edge.
However it was the Gaucho offense that struggled mightily over the final 20 minutes, as UCSB's 16 second-half points were its fewest in any half this year. Trailing 34-23 with 16:16 to play, LBSU embarked on a 7-2 run over the next three minutes. The visitors remained within single-digits the rest of the evening, pulling as close as 44-43 at the 2:03 mark when Jeannie Saunders' three-pointer swished in. On the next trip down the court, Santa Barbara sophomore center Jenna Green muscled her way in for a layup, while Long Beach then misfired on its two ensuing possessions.
Green was fouled hard with 20 seconds remaining but missed a pair of free-throws, setting up one final opportunity for the visitors to tie the score and force overtime. Long Beach worked the ball into the left corner where senior Fernanda Santos had an open look at a three-pointer bur saw her shot rim out. UCSB sophomore Jessica Wilson hauled down the rebound with three seconds left, and her teammates joined her in celebration at center court.
Green - returning to action after missing one game with a mild concussion - led all Gauchos with 16 points. Senior forward Autumn Nichols was the only other Gaucho to score in double-figures with 10 points and also hauled down eight boards. Santa Barbara held a 47-40 rebounding edge, paced by sophomore Kat Suderman's 11.
McCutcheon scored a game-high 17 points while Santos produced a double-double of 13 points and 15 boards. The 49ers shot just 29.3% for the game, slightly lower than the home team's 31.1% clip.
The Gauchos - who remain mathematically alive to capture their unprecedented 11th straight Big West regular season title - continue league play on Thursday, Feb. 23 at Cal State Fullerton. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m.