Gauchos Struggle To Find Their Shot, Fall 61-50 To BYU In Season Opener

Nov. 9, 2007

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team didn't exactly get the start it was looking for in its season opener Friday night, shooting just 30.5% from the field in a 61-50 loss to visiting BYU in the Thunderdome. Jessica Wilson recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Gauchos but it was not enough to overcome the team's forgettable shooting performance.

With just it's second loss to open the season in the past 14 years, UCSB falls to 0-1, while BYU improves to 1-0 on the young season.

After shooting 51.6% and 50% from the floor in consecutive exhibition wins last week, Santa Barbara struggled to get things going offensively against the Cougars on Friday. The Gauchos made just 8-of-29 shots, 27.6% in the decisive first half and finished 18-of-59, 30.5% for the game.

"I thought BYU did a tremendous job of handling our defensive pressure," head coach Mark French said. "They were an incredibly disciplined, well-coached, and fundamentally sound team and really took us out of what we wanted to do offensively. We definitely needed more production out of our post players to compete with that team."

Without two-time All-Big West First Team selection Jenna Green in the lineup, UCSB got a total of just 10 points from its forwards against a bigger BYU squad. Wilson scored her 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting and also recorded a game-high four steals, but she was the only Gaucho to score in double figures. Chisa Ononiwu and Whitney Warren each tallied seven, while freshman forward Ashlee Brown also had seven off the bench in her first regular season game in the blue and gold.

The Cougars were led by senior guard Mallary Gillespie-Carling, who scored a game-high 17 points on 5-for-11 shooting from the field overall and 3-of-6 from three-point range, while senior center Lauren Riley-Varley made seven of her eight shots and finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

BYU jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the first 6:33 following consecutive baskets by Ashley Cheesman, Riley-Varley, and Cassie King. The Gauchos then responded with an 11-0 run fueled by a layup by Lauren Pedersen, four quick points from Wilson, and an Ononiwu jumper to take a 17-12 lead with 8:49 remaining in the first half.

Cheesman then scored inside to start what became the Cougars decisive run. BYU outscored UCSB 16-4 from that point over the final seven minutes of the half to take a 30-21 lead into the locker room. The visitors controlled the glass during the first 20 minutes and held a 21-14 advantage at the break. While Santa Barbara shot a woeful 27.6% in the first half, BYU shot 54.2% (13-of-24).

Things didn't get much better in the second as the Gauchos went scoreless for the first 3:08 and were ultimately outscored 16-9 through the first 8:10 seconds of the half. The Cougars took their biggest lead of the game at 51-33 roughly three minutes later and UCSB got no closer than the final 11-point margin the rest of the way.

BYU finished shooting 50% for the game, making 23 of its 46 shots and recorded 17 assists to just six for UCSB. The Gauchos did a much better job on the glass in the second half and surrendered just three more rebounds to the Cougars, 37-34. Santa Barbara won the turnover battle, 28-20.

The Gauchos return to the court this Sunday when USC visits the Thunderdome at 2:00 p.m.

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