Dec. 7, 2008
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - It has been three years since UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team has beaten a Top-25 team. On Sunday, however, they beat a team that was knocking on the Top-25's door.
Using a stifling defense and getting contributions from the entire team, the Gauchos knocked off Gonzaga, 59-47 at the Thunderdome. It was just the second loss this season for the Bulldogs (8-2), who had been receiving votes in both the ESPN/USA Today poll and The Associated Press poll.
It was the second straight win for UCSB (3-3) and the biggest win of first-year head coach Lindsay Gottlieb's coaching career.
"I'm incredibly, incredibly happy with where this team is right now," Gottlieb said after the Gauchos held Gonzaga to just 32.1% shooting from the floor. "I'm not even sure that this crown knows how good Gonzaga is because we made them look not as good as they really are. I thought we had a really, really good game plan but that does not mean anything if the players don't buy into it."
It sure looked like the Gauchos were lining up at the cash register.
Margaret Johnson, making her second straight start, missed tying her career high by one with 13 points while pulling down a game-high eight rebounds.
"I just try to bring what I bring in practice every day," Johnson said. "I can't bring the energy level down. I have to keep it where it was."
Lauren Pedersen set a career-high with 12 assists and a career-high with seven steals, but saw her streak of 20 straight made free throws end, which had been a school record to start a season. Freshman Emilie Johnson had 10 points and five rebounds while Whitney Warren added seven points and four rebounds.
Meanwhile, UCSB's defense held two of the nation's top scorers in check all afternoon.
Gonzaga's Heather Bowman entered the game averaging 19.1 points per game and although she finished with a game-high 16, she was just 6 of 18 from the field. Courtney Vandersloot entered the game averaging 19.4 ppg and while she was nursing a sore ankle, she was scoreless in 15 minutes of action.
The game was a defensive battle early as the teams were tied 9-9 with over 15 minutes gone by in the first half. Then, Emilie Johnson hit a three-pointer to draw the Gauchos within one at 13-12 before Jenna Green made a layup followed by four consecutive layins for Margaret Johnson and a free throw, ending the half with UCSB ahead 23-16.
Then UCSB went on a 16-5 run to open the second half and pushed the lead to 20points, 45-25, with 10:56 left. Whitney Warren and Meagan Williams each had a pair of baskets in the run as the Gauchos then relied on their defense to hold on to the victory.
"I'm not the type of player that can create for myself, but when I get something out of the system, I get it," said Warren, the beneficiary of a few of Pedersen's 12 assists. "When I don't, I don't. I just try to do everything that I can do."
On Sunday, it was plenty.
UCSB has a week off for finals, then plays at Pepperdine next Sunday at 2 p.m. The Gauchos return home on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. vs. Harvard. All emergency personnel who worked the Tea and Gap Fires will receive two free tickets to this game by showing their emergency identification at the Thunderdome, up to two hours before tip-off.
The Harvard game is also a Coke Family Pack Night where $40 gets you four tickets, four T-shirts, four hot dogs and four Cokes. Tickets are available by calling (805) 893-UCSB, coming to the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics building located on campus or by clicking here.