Dec. 4, 2005
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Jessica Wilson's three-pointer with 1:14 to play Sunday afternoon broke open a 58-58 tie and was all the scoring the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team needed to secure its first victory of the 2005-06 season, a 67-58 triumph over Saint Mary's in the Thunderdome.
With the win, the Gauchos improved to 1-5 overall and avoided matching the worst start to a season in program history, which occurred in 1992-93. Meanwhile the Gaels fell to 2-4 and are still searching for their first road victory of the year.
UCSB played excelled defense throughout the second half, opening on an 11-3 run capped by Autumn Nichols' layup with 11:13 mark that knotted the score at 45-45. However the visitors regrouped to pull ahead by four points on several occasions, and then led 58-56 at the 3:06 mark when freshman guard Jontelle Smith buried a short jumper. On the next trip down the court, Santa Barbara rookie LaShay Fears was fouled while driving the basket and calmly sunk two free-throws to even the score.
The two teams traded missed opportunities until Gaucho senior guard Karena Bonds penetrated and found Wilson all alone on the left wing. After misfiring on her first three shots from beyond the arc, the Sacramento, Calif., native connected for what would eventually be the game-winning basket. Saint Mary's could not get its shots to fall down the stretch, and UCSB buried all six of its free-throws in the final minute - four by sophomore center Jenna Green - to ensure victory. The Gaels' 16 points following intermission equaled the third-fewest points ever surrendered by Santa Barbara in a second half.
It was a different staory in the opening period when SMC ailed five-of-eight shots from three-point land and took a 42-32 cushion into the locker rooms.
Green led all players with 23 points and 12 rebounds, both career highs and good for her first double-double as a collegian. Nichols enjoyed a 15-point performance, while Fears established a new personal best of 12 points and also dished off four assists. In addition to her eight points, Wilson made a trio of steals. While the Gauchos corrected their rebounding woes with a commanding 53-31 advantage on the glass - including 29 boards on the offensive end - their three-point shooting problems continued with a two-of-17 effort from beyond the arc.
Smith scored 16 of her team-high 22 points in the first half and was the only Gael to reach double-digits on the afternoon. Both teams committed 15 turnovers, although SMC tallied just five assists while Santa Barbara amassed 12.
The Gauchos will seek their first road victory of 2005-06 when they travel to Loyola Marymount on Sunday, Dec. 11 for a 2:00 p.m. showdown with the Lions.