Gauchos Topple Irvine Behind Great Defensive Play
Jan. 13, 2011
IRVINE, Calif. - A tremendous defensive effort by the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team - particularly Mekia Valentine - held two of the best scorers in the Big West in check and allowed the Gauchos to knock off first-place UC Irvine, 69-58 on Thursday night in the Bren Events Center.
Mikah Maly-Karros entered the Big West Conference contest averaging a conference-leading 19.2 points per game and her UCI teammate Jade Smith-Williams was averaging 14.5 points per game, ranking her third in the conference.
The duo combined for ... 16 points.
Valentine limited Maly-Karros inside and Smith-Williams had an off night, missing eight of her 10 shots and the Gauchos held the Anteaters to just 32.8% shooting from the field. On top of that, UCSB limited Irvine's second-chance opportunities by controlling the boards, outrebounding the Anteaters 44-29.
"Our gameplan was to take Smith-Williams and Maly-Karros out of it," said head coach Lindsay Gottlieb, whose team improves to 9-7 overall and 3-1 in the Big West. "Mekia was phenomenal. She rose to the challenge. I thought we locked (Maly-Karros) up and I thought we our double team's were important."
Valentine finished with eight points and 16 rebounds and held Maly-Karros to nine points and seven rebounds. Irvine, which was ranked No. 23 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll, falls to 11-5 overall and 3-1 in the conference. It was the Anteaters' first loss at home this season.
"It was a really good team effort," said Valentine, who was the primary player guarding Maly-Karros. "Our double team was really good. They did a good job of knowing where (Maly-Karros) was, knowing where I was, and closing up the trap.
"We did a good job of communicating, and getting back to the person she was trying to kick it to. I think she was frustrated because she didn't know where the (double team) was coming from."
As a team the Gauchos shot 51.0% and continued their hot touch, which helped them overcome a season-high 29 turnovers. UCSB entered the game as the Big West's leading team in field goal percentage and had hit 44.8% of its shots in its past 11 games. Santa Barbara has now won nine of its last 12 games.
Despite committing 20 first-half turnovers the Gauchos led 25-22 with Melissa Zornig hitting a mid-range jumper as time expired in the first stanza.
The Gauchos held an 11-point lead with 5:25 to go in the half, but UCI went on a quick run and Tayler Champion hit her second straight three-pointer for a 22-21 lead with 1:29 left.
UCSB did hold a 27-10 rebounding edge in the first half and held the Anteaters to a mere 26.7% shooting in the first half.
The Gauchos finish their road trip on Saturday at UC Riverside at 5 p.m. The game, as with all women's basketball games, will be broadcast live online by clicking here and AM 990. The pregame show with Josh Suchon starts 30 minutes before tip-off.
UCSB returns home on Saturday, Jan. 22 in a 2 p.m. game vs. Cal State Fullerton.
Tickets to women's basketball games - and any home UCSB athletics event - can be purchased by calling (805) 893-UCSB or online by clicking here.
The Intercollegiate Athletics Ticket Office has two parking spaces adjacent to the building and is now open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., making it easier than ever for fans to purchase tickets. The two parking spots, designated specifically for the Ticket Office, are also available during weekday hours, which are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.