March 1, 2007
STOCKTON, Calif. - LaShay Fears scored a career-high 23 points to lead all scorers and Jessica Wilson added 20 as the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team defeated Pacific 79-67 at the Alex G. Spanos Center Thursday night. A total of four players reached double figures for the Gauchos, who shot an impressive 56% from the field in the win.
With the victory UCSB improves to 16-12 overall this season and remains in the running for the Big West Conference's second seed at 9-4. Pacific, who lost for the fifth consecutive time, falls to 8-20 overall and 2-11 in league play. The Gauchos will play Cal State Northridge with second place on the line Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. following the Matadors 67-60 defeat of Cal Poly in Northridge Thursday night. The win snapped the Mustangs eight-game winning streak.
Fears, who led the Gauchos in scoring for the second consecutive game and third time overall this season, shot 6-for-10 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from three-point range, and made all eight of her free-throws for a career-best 23 points. Her previous best was 20 that came at Cal Poly February 4, 2006. The Palmdale, Calif. native added a game-high six assists, which was one off her personal best, only had one turnover, and grabbed three rebounds.
With a host of her family in attendance, Wilson had a brilliant game from the field, finishing 7-of-10 for 20 points. She made all three of her attempts from distance, hauled in a game-high 10 rebounds, and had three steals. The native of Sacramento now has three double-doubles this season. Jenna Green bounced back from an off performance against UC Riverside, tallying 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting, to go with six rebounds, and five blocks and Chisa Ononiwu went 4-of-6 from the field and finished with 10 points to round out the Gaucho scoring leaders.
UOP was led by freshman guard Jake Kelly's 18 points, while reserves Renee Roberts and Karen Dawkins scored 12 apiece, and Kelsey Lavender added 11 off the bench.
After a slow start, UCSB built an 18-6 lead following a Fears jumper at the 8:23 mark. The Tigers responded with six treys in the next four minutes - all by Kelly and Roberts - to take a two-point lead at 26-24 with 4:33 left in the half. Fears answered with a triple of her own and Jordan Franey scored on a beautiful pass from Wilson to take the lead back 29-26 with 3:17 to play. Pacific would pull within one again, but Santa Barbara got another three from Wilson and a Green layup with two seconds remaining gave the Gauchos a 36-32 lead at the break.
UCSB opened the second half on a 17-4 run keyed by four points from Ononiwu to take its biggest lead of the game, 53-36, with 12:31 left to play. Trailing by 17 again at 59-42, the Tigers got hot from distance again and pulled to within six (59-53) following a triple from Kelly, two from Lavender, and a Dawkins layup. The Gauchos then scored seven of the next nine points to build a 66-55 lead with 4:22 left on the clock.
UOP would get no closer than eight the rest of the way and UCSB held on for the 79-67 victory.
After shooting a season-high 58.5% from the field in their January 27 meeting with the Tigers, the Gauchos made 28-of-50 shots from the floor Thursday, 56%. Pacific shot 40.7%, connecting on 24-of-59 shots. Despite allowing 11 offensive rebounds, UCSB posted a 31-28 advantage on the glass and outscored UOP 34-20 in the paint.