January 25, 2007

UCSB's Six Game Winning Streak Ends With Narrow 66-64 Loss To Cal State Northridge

Jan. 25, 2007

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - LaJoyce King scored a game-high 22 points and Ofa Tulikihihifo tallied a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds as Cal State Northridge snapped UC Santa Barbara's six game winning streak with a 66-64 victory Thursday night in the Thunderdome. Jenna Green scored 19 points to lead the way for the Gauchos, who suffered their first loss to the Matadors since 1984.

Entering Thursday's match, UCSB owned a 26-11 all-time record against CSUN and had won the previous 17 meetings. Northridge last defeated Santa Barbara 65-61 in a non-conference match-up December 1, 1984 - three years before Mark French took over as head coach of the Gauchos.

With the win CSUN improves to 9-10 overall and takes sole possession of second place in the Big West Conference standings at 5-1. After suffering its first loss since December 28 at UC Riverside, UCSB falls to 10-9 overall and 4-2 in the Big West. The Gauchos are currently third in the league standings.

Green scored in double figures for the 18th time this season and her 19 points came on 8-of-16 shooting. Freshman forward Jordan Franey had another impressive outing, making four of her 10 attempts, including 3-of-7 from downtown, for 13 points. Junior guard Chisa Ononiwu finished with 11 on 4-of-13 shooting.

King was tremendous for the Matadors, making 8-of-12 shots from the field and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Tulikihihifo scored 13 of her 14 points in the first half and finished 6-for-11 for the game, while Jamie McCaa also scored in double figures with 11.

After an ugly first half in which they shot just 25% as a team and scored a measly 20 points, the Gauchos came roaring back in the second. Trailing 36-23 with 18:17 remaining, UCSB used a 13-0 run keyed by a jumper from Jessica Wilson and a Whitney Warren layup to even the score at 36 at the 15:29 mark of the second period.

Northridge answered with five straight points from King, taking a 41-36 advantage and eventually built its lead back up to 10 points at 50-40 following a big shot from Megan Ching with 7:23 left to play.

But the Gauchos would not stop fighting and continued to chip away at the Matadors' lead.

UCSB cut the deficit in half at 55-50 at the 3:43 mark after Franey scored cutting to the basket, only to go down by 11 once more on a McCaa layup with 50 seconds left on the clock. After LaShay Fears hit a three-pointer and King made 1-of-2 at the foul line, Warren's first-career hit from downtown pulled the Gauchos to within six with 17 seconds remaining. Following a Santa Barbara foul, Ching missed two from the line and Ononiwu nailed a triple from the left side to give the Gauchos a glimmer of life, down just 65-62 with 14 ticks left. King stepped up to the foul line on CSUN's next possession and made the back end of two to put the game out of reach and the Matadors held on for the historic two-point victory.

Northridge shot 51% from the field (26-for-51), including 54.2% in the second half, while Santa Barbara finished 34.3% (24-for-70) from the floor and made just 7-of-24 (29.2%) from beyond the arc. The Matadors also controlled the glass, out-rebounding the Gauchos 42-35. UCSB trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half after seven unanswered points from CSUN.

The Gauchos will look to rebound when they host the University of the Pacific Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome.

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