Jan. 14, 2009
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Once a team known for its trademark defense begins to score more frequently, that team can become awfully tough to beat.
Is the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team in that category yet? Six straight wins is tough to argue with, especially since the Gauchos used a solid defensive effort and produced one of its best offensive games of the season to defeat Portland State, 67-60 on Wednesday night in the Thunderdome.
UCSB has now rattled off a half-dozen successive victories and improves to 9-6 overall. Portland State, which came in with the best record of any opponent the Gauchos have faced, falls to 10-6.
The Gauchos had four players score in double figures for the second straight game. And for the second consecutive game, they cracked the 60-point mark.
"There are certain benchmark games to see where you are, and I thought tonight was one of those times that I was able to sit back and watch our offense a little bit and realize `They're getting it, they're getting it,'" head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said.
Whitney Warren scored 13 points, pulled down a season-high tying eight rebounds, handed out two assists and had a season-best three steals.
"She did a really good job of demanding the ball in places that she knew she could score," said Jenna Green about Warren. "She's very effective on smaller guards. I haven't seen that in a while so it got me excited to get her the ball."
Green added 11 points and eight rebounds, but was more disappointed with her 3-for-6 mark from the free throw line.
"I kind of felt like it was hack-a-Shaq and I couldn't hit free throws so I felt like him," Green said. "That was really frustrating, so I knew that if I couldn't hit free throws the least I could do was rebound and do things that I could control."
Control might be a good word for the Gauchos right now, since they seem to be in control. They held Portland State to just 36.7% from the floor, while shooting a season-high 47.9% from the floor. It was just the fourth game that UCSB has scored 60 or more points, although three of those have come in the past five games.
The Vikings took a 40-37 lead with 13:25 to go, their first lead since midway through the first half, but Pedersen canned a three-pointer as the teams traded baskets and were deadlocked at 50-50 with 7:32 remaining.
That's when the Gauchos took off. UCSB took a 60-50 lead with Green's buckets bookending baskets from Pedersen, Warren and Franey. The Vikings did cut it to a five-point game with 55 seconds left, UCSB hit six of its final seven free throws to ice it.
On the night, the Gauchos shot 17 of 23 from the stripe.
UCSB continues its homestand and resumes Big West Conference play on Saturday vs. Cal Poly at 2 p.m. in the Thunderdome. This is a Coke Family Pack game, where $40 gets you four tickets, four hot dogs, four T-shirts and four sodas. Tickets are available by calling (805) 893-UCSB, coming to the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or by clicking here.