March 8, 2011
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - In a new wrinkle of the ampm Big West Tournament this season, the top four seeds were rewarded with home-court advantage. For the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team, home court, unfortunately, didn't matter.
Seventh-seeded Pacific shocked the co-Big West champion Gauchos in the Thunderdome on Tuesday night, 49-45, holding UCSB without a point in the final 4:18 of the game.
UCSB, which was riding a seven-game winning streak into the first round game, will not reach the semifinals of the Big West tourney for the first time since 1996 when that team was upset by Pacific in double overtime.
The Tigers' win was their first in the Thunderdome since Feb. 21, 1987, a span of 24 straight losses in Santa Barbara.
The Gauchos fall to 19-11 overall while Pacific improves to 9-21.
Santa Barbara was just 5-for-15 from the free throw line after having shot 74.2 percent from the charity stripe over its previous six games. After Danielle Peacon was assessed a technical foul with 3:53 left in the game, Emilie Johnson missed both technical foul shots.
UCSB led by as many as 14 points with 18:35 to go in the game, but a quick 7-2 run by the Tigers cut the lead to 41-34 with 8:51 to go. Angelei Aguirre's basket was the Gauchos' final field goal, giving them a 45-39 lead with 4:18 remaining.
Peacon, an All-Big West Freshman Team pick, then fouled out and was given the T, forcing Pacific to shoot more from the outside and not give the ball into their post player who averaged 12.1 points per game this season. It worked.
"There was definitely a momentum shift," Emilie Johnson said. "In the past that's where we say `No, we're not going to let this happen' and we make a change and we stick together and we fight to the end. But tonight it just didn't go our way."
Jordan Rogers hit a three-pointer to beat the shot clock to make it 45-42 and then Kendall Rodriguez canned a trey to tie the game with 2:14 to go.
Rogers hit both free throws with 0:25 to go and Nicole Nesbit drove the length of the floor to attempt a layin, but missed and UCSB called timeout. Nesbit missed a jumper with 7.3 seconds to go and two more free throws by Erica McKenzie iced the game.
UCSB's men's team opens the ampm Big West Tournament with a game on Thursday afternoon vs. No. 4 seed Pacific. Tickets are available by calling (805) 893-UCSB or online by clicking here.