December 21, 2008

Gauchos Fall to Kentucky in Gibbons' Return to Team

Dec. 21, 2008

Box Score

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Although the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team got a season-high 16 points from Whitney Warren and an added boost as Sha'Rae Gibbons played her first game of the season, it wasn't enough to overcome a hot-shooting Kentucky team in a 69-58 defeat on Sunday at Kentucky's Memorial Coliseum.

UCSB falls to 3-6 on the season while Kentucky improves to 7-5.

Warren went 7 of 11 from the field and her 16 points and six rebounds led the team.

"There's one word for it and it's effort," head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said about Warren. "There are things she does very, very well and she buys into her role extremely well. She gives this team 100% effort every time and it's hard to take a kid like that off the floor."

A welcome sign, however in the defeat, was that senior point guard Sha'Rae Gibbons played in her first game this season after just being cleared to practice two days ago. Gibbons had missed the Gauchos' first eight games this season after having surgery on her left pinkie finger on Nov. 6.

She finished with 10 points as the only other UCSB player in double figures.

Gibbons knocked down a three-pointer that cut the deficit to 51-39 midway through the second half and brought UCSB's bench to its feet as the 5-foot-7 guard from Sacramento brought an emotional boost to the team, finishing with 10 points in her season debut.

"To be honest I didn't know if we were going to play her or not just because of a flow thing and she's had two days of practice," Gottlieb said. "To her credit, she keeps her self ready to go. We went with it and it's a really positive thing. It's no knock on Emilie or Lauren but Sha'Rae brings a fiery element to the backcourt."

Jenna Green and Jordan Franey each had eight points while Lauren Pedersen added seven. UCSB shot 44.2% from the field but it wasn't enough as Kentucky nailed seven three-pointers.

The Gauchos kept it within 12 points for a few minutes but Kentucky went on a quick 7-0 spurt to push the lead back to 60-41 with 7:39 to play, all but dashing UCSB's hopes of an upset.

"Once we started getting some stops, we couldn't knock down shots," Gottlieb said. "We got some good looks for our shooters. That's just a bad combination. We just couldn't capitalize and you're not going to beat good teams if you cant do that."

Although the Gauchos finished the game strong, scoring 17 of the final 26 points, Kentucky's first-half offensive outburst was too much for UCSB to overcome. The Wildcats, who had lost four of its previous six games, shot 14 of 30 from the floor in the first half, however seven of those field goals were three-pointers.

Kentucky took a 22-8 lead as the Wildcats knocked down 8 of their first 11 shots from the field including 4-for-4 from three-point range. UK entered the game hitting just 23.2% of its three-pointers, yet everything they threw up went in, including a line-drive, banked-in three-ball from Amani Franklin early in the first half.

Moments later Franklin hit another 3 and was fouled in the process by Emilie Johnson, resulting in a four-point play that put Kentucky ahead 32-14.

The Wildcats extended that lead to 40-23 at the half, shooting an unbelievable 7 of 11 from three-point range and were led by Franklin who poured in 20 points in the first half alone, just one shy of her previous career high. So on-the-mark was Franklin that she was 7-for-9 from the floor, including 5-for-6 from downtown. This after starting the season just 12 of 40 from three-point range.

"They shot the ball really well," Gottlieb said. "That wasn't the game plan to give up a couple threes. When you commit to a zone, you go with a zone and she got hot and we didn't make the adjustments to get out on her."

The Gauchos return home on Dec. 28 against Santa Clara at the Thunderdome at 2 p.m. The game is a Coke Family Pack Night where $40 gets you four tickets, four T-shirts, four hot dogs and four sodas.

Tickets are available by calling (805) 893-UCSB, visiting the Ticket Office located on campus in the Intercollegiate Athletics Office or by clicking here.