January 2, 2009

Gauchos Open Big West Season With Convincing Victory Over Long Beach State

Jan. 2, 2009

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team posted its second consecutive win at the Thunderdome with a 66-48 victory over Long Beach State during both team's Big West Conference opener on Friday evening.

With the win, UCSB improves to 5-6 overall and has gotten off to a 1-0 start in conference play. All five of the Gauchos' victories this season have come in the Thunderdome. Long Beach State falls to 3-9 on the year and 0-1 in BWC games.

Senior guard Lauren Pedersen led the team with 16 total points during her 34 minutes on the court. She went 7-for-15 from the field and sunk a pair of three-pointers. She was also second on the team with six rebounds and had a team-leading three steals.

"I have confidence that every shot that Lauren Pedersen puts up is going in, so to me when they go in I kind of expect it and when they don't I'm kind of surprised," said head coach Lindsay Gottlieb on Pedersen's performance.

Senior guard Sha'Rae Gibbons made a solid impact off the bench in just her third game back from pinkie surgery. She posted 14 points and a team-leading six assists - both season highs - during her 28 minutes of play. She went 6-for-8 from the field and 2-for-3 from the three-point range.

Junior Chris Spencer had six points for the Gauchos and led the team with seven rebounds.

UCSB got on the board first with a layup from Whitney Warren and steadily built an 8-0 lead. The 49ers finally got on the scoreboard with a jumper from Melanie Linsock just over five minutes into the first half. Another field goal followed by a three-pointer from Courtney Jacob helped Long Beach climb within one point at 8-7.

The Gauchos responded quickly with a layup by Pedersen followed by the first of Gibbons' two three-pointers. Fields made a layup before UCSB posted back-to-back three-pointers from Pedersen and Gibbons to grab a 19-9 lead.

The 49ers chipped away at the Gaucho advantage and a three-pointer from Sims put them back within three points at 21-18 with just 4:47 to go in the first. In the final minutes of the first half, UCSB once again distanced itself from the 49ers and a three-pointer at the buzzer by Pedersen gave the Gauchos a 30-21 advantage heading into the locker rooms.

"That was huge, and I thought that was a momentum shifter," Gottlieb said on the run that ended the first half. "Overall I thought our poise and execution, which is something that we had talked about, was a lot better than it has been and I'm really proud of that."

During the second half, the Gauchos were able to jump out to an 11-point advantage within the first five minutes of the game. Over the next two minutes, UCSB went on a 7-2 run behind a pair of Spencer three-pointers and Gibbons layups to lead by 19.

Santa Barbara led by double-digits the rest of the way as its cruised to the 66-48 win. The Gauchos' shot an impressive 50% from the field during the second half.

Defensively, the Gauchos held the 49ers to 31.7% shooting from the field and 15.8% from the three-point range.

Whitney Fields, who turned in 11 total points and 10 rebounds, led Long Beach. Lauren Sims chipped in 10 points for the 49ers.

The Gauchos will continue their quest to defend their Big West Conference title on Sunday, Jan. 4 when they host UC Riverside at the Thunderdome at 2 p.m.

Tickets are available at the Thunderdome box office or by clicking here.

- UCSBgauchos.com -