Jan. 2, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - It's four straight wins and counting for the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team, which opened Big West Conference play Monday night with a 73-48 victory over UC Riverside in the Thunderdome.
The 10-time defending Big West champion Gauchos improved to 5-6 overall in 2005-06 after winning their league opener for an 11th-straight year. It was their widest victory margin of the season, and fewest points UCSB has surrendered thus far. Meanwhile the Highlanders' losing streak reached seven games as they fell to 3-8 on the season.
UCSB senior guard Karena Bonds broke open an early 4-4 tie with a three-pointer, and with her squad holding a 9-8 lead at the 13:39 mark of the first half Santa Barbara embarked on an 11-0 run capped by another Bonds' trifecta less than three minutes later. The home team would never again lead by fewer than 10 points, and their cushion reached 32-12 with 3:32 remaining until intermission when sophomore Kat Suderman knocked down a short jumper. The Gauchos took a 36-18 advantage into the locker rooms.
The visitors - who started an all-freshman lineup - nailed nine of their first 13 shots to open the second period, but could not pull any closer than 16 points as UCSB continued its three-point onslaught. Bonds and freshman Shantel Thomas connected from beyond the arc in the opening minutes of the half, and when Jessica Wilson's long-bomb found the bottom of the net with 12:11 to play, the scoreboard read 49-27 in favor of Santa Barbara.
For the eighth time this season, sophomore center Jenna Green paced the Gaucho offense with her 15 points, while also hauling down a team-best eight rebounds and blocking four shots. Bonds nailed three-of-four shots from beyond the arc en route to a 13-point performance, also dishing off five assists without a turnover. Suderman rounded out UCSB's double-digit scorers with 11. The home team committed a season-low nine turnovers.
Rookie forward Tainoisouti Lott amassed a double-double for UCR in the form of 14 points and a game-best 11 rebounds, while Amber Cox tallied 12 points and matched Green's four blocks. Riverside - which only utilized six players - committed 19 miscues and shot 39.2%, compared to 47.5% by the victors.
The Gauchos conclude their season-long five-game homestand on Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 7:00 p.m., hosting Cal State Fullerton in the Thunderdome. A win would give UCSB a .500 overall record for the first time all year.