March 24, 2008
Box Score | AP Gallery
NORFOLK, Va. - Lyndra Littles scored a game-high 17 points to lead fourth-seeded Virginia to an 86-52 victory over No. 13 UC Santa Barbara in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Senior Jessica Wilson scored 13 points to lead the Gauchos in her final game in the blue and gold.
Virginia improves to 24-9 overall and advances to face No. 5 Old Dominion in the second round Tuesday night. The Lady Monarchs defeated 12th-seeded Liberty 82-62 in the first game of the night. UCSB, which had won 19 of its last 20 games entering Sunday's contest, sees its season come to a close with an overall mark of 23-8.
Littles shot 5-of-11 from the field and 6-of-8 at the free throw line to lead four Cavaliers in double figures. She also hauled in a game-high 10 rebounds. Aisha Mohammed added 15 points and seven boards, while Sharnee Zoll tallied 13 points and four assists.
Wilson hit her first five shots from the field and went on to finish 6-for-8 for the game, scoring 10 of her 13 points in the first half. The Sacramento, Calif. native also grabbed five rebounds and had three steals. Wilson was in foul trouble for most of the game and fouled out with 5:28 remaining.
Freshman Ashlee Brown was tremendous in her first NCAA Tournament game, scoring 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting to go with a team-high six rebounds.
Santa Barbara battled Virginia tough early on and took a 12-9 lead with 14:52 remaining in the first half after Wilson scored on a nice feed from Kat Suderman. Lauren Pedersen knocked down a three-pointer to give UCSB a 19-18 advantage five minutes later, but that would be the Gauchos' last lead of the game.
Brown hit a baseline jumper to bring Santa Barbara to within one at 28-27 at the 6:08 mark, but Monica Wright hit two free throws and Virginia closed the half on an 11-3 run to take a 39-30 lead at intermission.
Brown scored UCSB's final seven points of the first half, including a bucket with one minute left that ended a five-minute scoreless streak for the Gauchos. Both teams shot 42% in the opening period, but Virginia visited the free throw line 21 times, scoring 16 of its 39 first-half points from the charity stripe. The Gauchos, on the other hand, only went to the line six times, connecting on three attempts.
Santa Barbara trimmed three points off the deficit two minutes into the second half, but scored just one point over the next five minutes while the Cavaliers turned a 45-38 lead into a 61-38 margin with 12 minutes remaining and the lead kept on growing.
"In general, our inability to keep them from penetrating and keeping them from the foul line hurt us," head coach Mark French said. "They were a bit too quick and athletic for us and they certainly responded magnificently in the second half. It's a credit to Virginia."
Virginia shot 44% for the game, hitting 25-of-57 attempts from the field. Santa Barbara finished just 33%, converting 19-of-57 shots. The Cavaliers dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Gauchos 47-31.
The game featured a total of 44 fouls and 57 free throws. UVa definitely took advantage at the stripe, knocking down 31-of-38 fouls shots, 82%, while UCSB was just 12-for-19, 63%.
The 34-point margin was the Gauchos' worst defeat this season.
"We knew it was going to be a very physical game and there were a few calls that should of gone our way but I think the officials did well," commented Brown. "It was a hard loss but I think we are going to bring it next year and get back into this position again."
UCSB, which made its 13th straight postseason appearance (10 NCAA, 3 WNIT) after defeating UC Davis in the finals of the Big West Tournament, falls to 7-12 in the Big Dance all-time. The Gauchos last NCAA Tournament win came in 2004 when they advanced to the Sweet 16 as a No. 11 seed.