January 26, 2006

Gauchos Escape Cal State Northridge with 54-51 Victory

Jan. 26, 2006

Box Score

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - For the second time in three years, the Cal State Northridge women's basketball team saw a three-pointer rim out as time expired against UC Santa Barbara in the Matadome, with Thursday's result being a gritty 54-51 Gaucho victory.

UCSB's narrow win improved its overall record to 9-8, as well as 4-2 in Big West Conference play to pull into a tie for second place. Meanwhile the Matadors fell to 5-13 and 2-4 following their 15th straight defeat at the hands of Santa Barbara.

Faced with a 30-25 halftime deficit, the visitors clawed back with an 8-2 run to open the final period, and when sophomore center Jenna Green muscled her way for a tough layup at the 16:31 mark, the Gauchos went ahead 33-32. However Jamie McCaa broke a nearly five-minute CSUN scoring drought with her three-pointer with 14:26 remaining to put her squad back on top by two before UCSB reclaimed the lead and eventually went ahead 39-35 following another Green basket.

The home team then mounted a 6-1 spurt spanning the next two minutes, retaking the lead at 41-40 courtesy of LaJoyce King's layup at the 8:34 mark. That would turn out to be Northridge's final basket of the evening, enabling Santa Barbara to pull ahead for good. The visitors' largest lead came at 50-45 with 3:12 remaining, but they also found themselves in foul trouble that enabled CSUN to score its final nine points from the free-throw line and keep things interesting.

The Matadors pulled within two points on three occasions in the waning minutes, including with 11 seconds to play when McCaa sunk a pair from the charity stripe. Gaucho freshman guard LaShay Fears then hit one-of-two free-throws on the opposite end, and following a timeout the ball was once again in McCaa's hands. Her three-point attempt from the right wing drew iron with only two seconds remaining, and the clock expired before Northridge could try another potential game-equalizer.

CSUN was able to build its first-half cushion thanks to a 10-2 spurt in the opening minutes, all coming after Santa Barbara had tallied the game's first four points. The home team's lead grew as wide as 22-12 at the 8:30 mark before UCSB amassed the next seven points, and eventually pulled as close as 25-24 with 2:11 left before intermission.

For the 13th time this season, Green paced the Gaucho offense with 17 points, scoring 11 after halftime. Meanwhile sophomore Jessica Wilson tallied 10 of her 15 points before the break, and also nabbed a personal best seven steals. As a team, Santa Barbara swiped the ball a season-high 16 times.

The home team received 12 points apiece from McCaa and King, while Jazelle Burries hauled down a game-high 15 steals. Despite her lofty total, Northridge was out-rebounded 49-44 overall, and was also hindered by its forgettable five-of-30 (16.7%) shooting performance in the second period.

The Gauchos continue their season-long five game road swing on Saturday, Jan. 28, facing Big West foe Pacific at 3:00 p.m.

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