Dec. 9, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Junior center Jenna Green scored a game-high 21 points and freshman forward Ariana Gnekow added a career-best 11 in her second start of the year, but it was not enough as Loyola Marymount defeated UC Santa Barbara 63-58 Saturday afternoon in the Thunderdome. Junior guard Amanda DeCoud paced the Lions with 18 points off the bench.
With the victory, LMU has now won two straight and improves to 5-4 this season, while UCSB saw its season-best two-game winning streak snapped and falls to 3-6 on the year. After finishing 10-3 in the Thunderdome a year ago, the Gauchos are just 2-4 at home to start the 2006-07 campaign.
Green scored in double figures for the ninth consecutive game and 15 of her 21 points came after halftime. She made 10-of-16 shots from the field and also recorded 10 rebounds for her third double-double of the season. Gnekow, who started in place of an injured Jessica Wilson, made just one of four shots from the floor, but went 9-for-10 from the free throw line. The Santa Ynez, Calif. native also dished out a game-high four assists. Freshman guard Meagan Williams chipped in with a career-best nine points in 25 minutes off the bench.
In addition to Decoud, two other players scored in double figures for Loyola Marymount. Forward Ashlee Dunlap scored 12 points and added six rebounds, while guard Cassady Moore had 11.
After scoring the first basket of the game, UCSB held a lead just twice Saturday, at 6-4 and at 7-6. From that point, the visitors used a 13-3 run capped off by a Dunlap lay-up to take a 20-9 advantage at the 10:56 mark, their biggest of the afternoon. The Gauchos closed to within six on three occasions in the final seven minutes of the opening half, but each time the Lions were able to respond.
Green's lay-up with 20 seconds left to play cut the Santa Barbara deficit to just five at 29-24, but Decoud went the length of the court for the score as time expired to give LMU a 31-24 advantage at intermission.
The Gauchos gave a spirited effort in the second half, keeping the Lions within striking distance for the duration of the period, but they could never catch LMU. Green scored UCSB's first four points of the second and freshman forward Jordan Franey added a driving lay-up to pull the Gauchos within three at 33-30, but the Lions countered with a three straight baskets capped off by Valerie Ogoke's lay-up to go ahead 39-30 with 12:05 remaining.
After Loyola's lead swelled to 57-47 for the third time in the half, Santa Barbara scrapped and clawed its way back into the game, pulling as close as three with 17 seconds left on the clock. The 10-point deficit was trimmed in half after a Whitney Warren lay-up and a three pointer from Williams and, after a pair of free throws from DeCoud, Warren scored again inside and Gnekow sank a pair from the line as the Gauchos trailed by just three, 59-56.
That was as close as UCSB would get as the Lions made their free throws down the stretch. Both Moore and Kavita Gross calmly knocked in two from the charity stripe to secure the victory for LMU.
"This was a frustrating loss for us because we continue to have issues in the same areas," head coach Mark French said. "Loyola Marymount out-rebounded us and they performed better down low in the paint. Its tough to continue to struggle on things when you spend so much time working on them in practice."
The Lions shot an impressive 46.2% from the floor (24-52), while the Gauchos made 40.7% (22-54) of their attempts. LMU out-rebounded UCSB 40-30 and out-scored the Gauchos 34-30 in the paint. After shooting a season best 47.1% from beyond the three-point arc in Thursday's win over Weber State, UCSB made just 14.3% (2-14) of its three-point attempts Saturday.
Free throw shooting, something that has plagued Coach French's squad all year, continued to hamper Santa Barbara on Saturday, as the Gauchos made just 60% (12-20) of their shots from the charity stripe. The Lions were not much better, hitting 66.7% (14-21).
UCSB did take care of the ball, turning it over just 14 times to 20 giveaways for LMU. The Gauchos out-scored the Lions 19-10 in points off turnovers.
UCSB will now have eight days off to take final exams and return to the court Monday, December 18, at Pepperdine. The Gauchos and the Waves will tip-off at 7:00 p.m.