January 23, 2010

Johnson's Jumper Gives Gauchos Double OT Win Over Fullerton

Jan. 23, 2010

Box Score

FULLERTON, Calif. - There were more twists and turns on Saturday at Titan Gym than an Agatha Christie novel. But in the end, the whodunit was Emilie Johnson, who nailed the game-winner in the second overtime to give UC Santa Barbara a thrilling 60-59 double overtime victory over Cal State Fullerton.

It's so hard to pick a place to begin in this one, so the end is appropriate.

Trailing by a point with 53.4 seconds to play, the Gauchos ran their offense to perfection in the closing seconds of the second overtime, with Ariana Gnekow finally getting the ball to Johnson. The sophomore guard hit a 12-foot jumper from the baseline to give UCSB the one-point lead.

Meagan Williams blocked a shot on Fullerton's next possession but the Titans retained the ball and UCSB played more great defense as Lyndsey Grove's 3-pointer at the buzzer wasn't close.

The victory extends UCSB's winning streak against CSUF to 34 consecutive games and gives the Gauchos a 6-12 overall record and a 3-3 mark in the Big West and the team's first double-overtime win since the 1976-77 season. Fullerton falls to 8-11, 4-3.

"We showed a ton of poise and a lot of people made plays," said UCSB head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. "That was a fun one."

The Gauchos' second-year coach might have been singing a different tune - and nearly was - had Fullerton pulled the game out.

In the first overtime the Gauchos took a 53-49 lead on a layup from Mekia Valentine, who finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. However Mya Olivier made a layup and Megan Richardson hit a 3-pointer to give Fullerton a 54-53 lead with 2:03 left.

Jordan Franey, who finished a wild play at the end of regulation with a basket with 0.2 seconds left to send things into overtime, had a 17-footer rim out with 18 seconds left, which would have given UCSB a lead. Instead Jasmine Scott hit the front end of a one-and-one free throw, but missed the second one.

Williams, who had 17 points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists, corralled the rebound, sent it to Gnekow, who crossed halfcourt and was met by two Fullerton players. The senior swung a pass over to Johnson, who flicked the ball in to Valentine for an easy layup with 0:04 left in the first overtime to tie things at 55-apiece.

If not for Franey, though, Emilie Johnson's heroics wouldn't have been realized.

Despite holding a five-point led with 5:45 remaining in the game, Grove, Britt Peters and Scott all hit 3-pointers, giving the Titans a 47-45 advantage with 2:31 left before Megan Richardson's jumper with 1:04 remaining pushed CSUF's lead to four points.

Valentine made a quick layup with 0:37 remaining in regulation and then blocked Richardson's layup attempt with 0:11 left to give the Gauchos hope.

Johnson had her shot with four seconds left blocked, and the ball bounced off three players before falling into Franey's hands. The senior calmly gathered the ball and knocked down an eight-foot jumper - her only basket of the game - with 0.2 seconds left to send it to overtime.

After UCSB had captured the win, Gottlieb and Franey embraced at midcourt amidst a celebration of ecstatic Gauchos.

UCSB will face Cal Poly on Thursday in San Luis Obispo at 7 pm in the first meeting between the schools since last year's Big West Tournament championship game, which the Gauchos won 64-57. The game can be heard live on AM 990 or by clicking here.

It is also the first game between the two teams since the start of the Blue-Green Rivalry series for sustainability.

All men's and women's basketball games will be broadcast live on AM 1490 and AM 990 again this year, and those games will also be available online, by clicking here.. And, UCSB Athletics is proud to announce that the baseball team will have over 20 games broadcast live on the air and through our website, UCSBgauchos.com.

UCSB Athletics has a new weekly radio show called Talk'n Gauchos which airs every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. on AM 1490 KIST. The show is broadcast live from State & A Bar and Grill, located on the corner of State Street and Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara. Fans are encouraged to attend the show for free gear and ticket giveaways or to even e-mail a question in to one of the guests and have it read live over the air. The show also airs live online via audio streaming and fans can click here to check out the entire lineup of live audio streaming online.