January 20, 2007

Gauchos Battle Back, Defeat Cal Poly 68-62

Jan. 20, 2007

Box Score

SAN LUIS OBiSPO, Calif. - Trailing 56-44 with 12:01 remaining, UC Santa Barbara closed the game on a 24-6 run and went on to post a 68-62 Big West Conference victory over Cal Poly Saturday afternoon at Mott Gym. Jessica Wilson led the way with a game-high 19 points, while Jenna Green scored 15, grabbed 11 rebounds, and blocked a career-high six shots in the Gauchos sixth consecutive victory.

With the win, UCSB improves to two games over the .500 mark for the first time this season at 10-8 overall. The Gauchos have now won four straight in conference play after losing their opener and currently stand at 4-1 in the Big West. Cal Poly lost for the eighth time in its last nine games, falling to 5-12 overall (1-4 Big West).

Wilson scored 15 of her 19 points in the first half on perfect 6-for-6 shooting. The junior guard also grabbed five rebounds and dished out a game-high five assists in her second game filling in for injured LaShay Fears at point guard. Green made 4-of-6 shots in the decisive second half after starting just 2-for-7 and led all rebounders with 11, marking her fourth double-double of the season. Her six blocks eclipsed her previous best of four that came January 6 against UC Irvine. The junior center was tremendous defensively, altering a number of Cal Poly's shots throughout the game.

Junior guard Chisa Ononiwu followed her career-high 20-point performance in the win at UC Davis with another outstanding effort Saturday. She finished with 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting, hauled in six rebounds, and made all seven of her attempts at the free-throw line. Freshman forward Jordan Franey struggled from the floor, missing all seven of her shots after hitting her first three-point attempt, but made 7-of-8 foul shots - including a pair in the final minute - for 10 points.

The Mustangs were led by senior Jessica Eggleston and junior Toni Newman with 12 points apiece. Becky Tratter added nine, while Tamara Wells and Megan Harrison both chipped in with eight.

On top 33-31 at halftime, UCSB quickly saw its lead erased in the opening minutes of the second period, as Cal Poly went ahead 40-38 on a three-pointer from Lisa McBride at the 17:16 mark. After the Gauchos took the lead right back, 44-42 on three consecutive baskets from Ononiwu, the Mustangs scored 14 unanswered points keyed by a Tratter layup in the paint to take a 56-44 advantage with 12:01 remaining.

It was all Gauchos from there. Freshman forward Ariana Gnekow secured an offensive rebound and scored, Ononiwu made a pair of free-throws, Green scored inside, and Ononiwu completed a three-point play to cut the deficit to just three, 56-53 at 9:52. Cal Poly went back ahead by seven less than two minutes later when Wells made a driving layup, was fouled, and sank the foul shot, but UCSB would respond once again.

With both teams over the foul limit and shooting free throws the rest of the way, Santa Barbara took advantage. Franey made five free-throws in a span of a minute and eight seconds and Green put home a beautiful pass from Wilson as the Gauchos tied the game at 61-61, with 5:52 on the clock.

After a Meagan Williams free-throw, Wilson hit a jumper and Newman made 1-of-2 at the line for the Mustangs. Leading 64-62 with 49 seconds to play, Franey was then fouled after a defensive rebound and went to the line with a chance to put the game away. The freshman calmly sank both shots and the Gauchos held on for the 68-62 victory.

UCSB did not shoot the ball particularly well, coming off a 52.9% performance against the Aggies, and finished 39.6% from the floor, making 21-of-53 shots. The Gauchos were just 1-of-10 from downtown. Santa Barbara limited Cal Poly to just 33.9% shooting (21-of-62), however, marking the sixth consecutive game in which the Gauchos held the opposition to under 40% from the field. The Mustangs were 4-of-12 from behind the three-point arc.

Santa Barbara won the rebounding battle yet again, 44-36, despite allowing 12 on the offensive glass. UCSB turned the ball over a total of 22 times to only 18 giveaways for Cal Poly and lead by as many as nine in the first half.

The Gauchos will put their six game winning streak on the line Thursday, January 25 against Cal State Northridge in the first of four straight games in the Thunderdome. Tip-off in the contest with the Matadors is 7:00 p.m.

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