December 28, 2007

Williams' Effort Not Enough In 88-70 Loss To Montana

Dec. 28, 2007

Box Score

MISSOULA, Mont. - Sophomore guard Meagan Williams scored a career-high 28 points but the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team could not slow down Montana, dropping an 88-70 decision in the first game of the Lady Griz Holiday Classic Friday night at Dahlberg Arena.

The Lady Griz won their sixth consecutive game and improved to 9-3 overall this season with the victory. Montana also remained unbeaten at home with a perfect mark of 6-0. UCSB lost for the third time in the last four games and falls to 4-6 in 2007-08.

Williams was the one bright spot on a night when few things went right for Santa Barbara, finishing an impressive 12-of-16 from the field overall and 4-of-6 from behind the three-point line. Her 28 points eclipsed her previous high of 16 that came at UC Davis January 13. It also marked the highest point total by a Gaucho this season and was the most since Jenna Green scored 29 against Cal Poly February 17.

The Sacramento, Calif. native also tied a career-high after leading all rebounders with eight and tallied two steals and an assist.

No other player scored in double figures for UCSB. Junior forward Whitney Warren finished 4-of-6 from the floor for a season-high nine points, while Jessica Wilson and Kat Suderman added eight apiece.

Senior forward Johanna Closson led Montana with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Junior center Tamara Guardipee was a force in the post and finished 6-of-8 from the floor for 15 points, while freshman forward Sarah Enah added 13 off the bench and junior guard Mandy Morales chipped in with 10 after missing the Lady Griz' previous six games with a foot injury.

Playing in front of a spirited crowd of 4,053, the home team raced out to an early 13-2 lead in the first 6:02 following a triple from guard Sonya Rogers. The Lady Griz then extended their advantage to 14 at 24-10 following a pair of Enah free-throws four minutes later and held an 11 point lead (30-19) with 4:27 left to play in the opening half.

The Gauchos, who playing for the first time since learning Green will redshirt the rest of the season, responded with their best stretch of basketball all night, cutting the deficit to just five (31-26) with 3:08 remaining following back-to-back jumpers from Suderman and a Williams three-pointer.

But Montana closed the half on an 8-2 run capped off by a Closson layup with seven seconds left to take a 39-28 lead into the locker room at the break.

The Grizzlies' hot shooting continued in the opening minutes of the second half and Montana outscored UCSB 15-7 in the first 3:42 to build an insurmountable 54-35 lead.

The Gauchos would get no closer than 16 points the rest of the way and trailed by as many as 25 at 80-55 with 6:40 left on the clock. Santa Barbara closed to game on a 15-8 run for the final 88-70 margin.

For the game, UCSB shot a respectable 46.8% (29-62), but Montana was an impressive 57.4% (31-54) and was a blistering 68% (17-25) in the second half.

While the Gauchos only made two less field goals than the Grizzlies, the difference came at the foul line, where Montana was a very effective 22-of-30, 73.3%. UCSB was just 5-of-7, 71.4%.

Turnovers were also a factor for Santa Barbara, who gave it away 21 times leading to 27 Lady Griz points. The Gauchos scored 17 points on 16 Montana turnovers.

The Grizzlies out-rebounded UCSB 32-31.

UCSB won't have to wait long to get back on the court and try to leave Montana with a split. The Gauchos will take on the University of Mississippi (5-5) tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. PST.