Wilson Leads Gauchos to 90-81 Upset of 24th-Ranked UCLA
Dec. 17, 2005
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Jessica Wilson's driving layup at the end of regulation forced overtime Saturday afternoon in the Thunderdome, and the UC Santa Barbara sophomore guard then scored 11 points in the extra period as the Gauchos upset 24th-ranked UCLA 90-81.
UCSB's first win over a ranked team since the March 22, 2004 improved its overall record to 2-6, while the Bruins fell to 5-4 on the young season.
Holding a slim 35-31 lead at intermission, UCLA opened the second half on a 16-2 run that included 10 points from senior guard Lisa Willis. The visitors' lead again reached 16 points at 63-47 when Lindsay Plumier scored a layup with 11:50 to play, but Santa Barbara later rallied with a string of 12 unanswered points capped by freshman Shantel Thomas' basket at the 5:50 mark that made the scoreboard read 67-66 in favor of the Bruins.
The home team could not pull ahead in regulation, and UCLA's cushion was back up to six at 74-68 when Willis sunk a free-throw with 2:48 remaining. That would be the visitors' final point of the period, as freshman LaShay Fears and senior Autumn Nichols knocked down shots on the Gauchos two ensuing possessions. After a series of missed opportunities by both teams - including an errant three-pointer by Wilson in the final 20 seconds - UCLA's Nikki Blue was fouled intentionally with under nine seconds to play and her team holding a 74-72 advantage. She failed to convert on both free-throw attempts, and the rebound ended up in the hands of Wilson who drove along the right sideline and floated in an uncontested layup as time expired.
In the extra frame, the Bruins struck first as Blue converted one-of-two from the charity stripe before Fears knocked down a mid-range jumper on the next trip down the court and UCSB would not trail again. Tied at 76-76 with less than three minutes to play, Wilson scored yet another acrobatic layup and her teammates hit five of their next six free-throws. Chinyere Ibekwe stopped the bleeding with UCLA's only basket of OT to pull her squad within 83-78 at the 1:05 mark, but Wilson responded by going strong to the hole again. She put the exclamation point on Santa Barbara's comeback victory by converting on an old-fashioned three-point play with just half a second remaining.
The first half was a hotly-contested affair, with six lead changes and a trio of ties. The Gauchos held an early 8-4 cushion while UCLA's widest margin was 25-16 at the 4:46 mark.
Wilson buried nine-of-13 shots en route to a career-high 21-point performance, and also hauled down a personal best 11 rebounds for her first double-double as a Gaucho. Fears' 20 points also accounted for a career best and were matched by sophomore center Jenna Green. Senior forward Autumn Nichols - playing a career-high 38 minutes - contributed 10 points and seven boards to the victory. UCSB won the battle of the boards 42-36 and shot an even 50% (32-of-64) after not reaching the 40% plateau in any of their seven previous games this season.
Willis led all scorers with 28 points and sunk four-of-eight three-pointers in the process. Blue tallied 13 points and seven assists, followed by Noelle Quinn and Plumier who scored 12 and 10, respectively in the first meeting between UCLA and UCSB since November of 1993. The Bruins lost for just the second time in 15 all-time meetings with Santa Barbara.
The Gauchos play their second straight game against a Pacific-10 Conference school on Monday, Dec. 19, hosting Arizona (4-4 overall) in the Thunderdome at 7:00 p.m.