Feb. 22, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Juniors Jenna Green and Jessica Wilson were spectacular for the second straight game only this time the pair led the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team to a 70-64 Big West Conference victory over visiting Cal State Fullerton Thursday night in the Thunderdome. Green scored a game-high 24 points and Wilson tallied 16 to help extend the Gauchos' winning streak against the Titans to 27 games dating back to 1995.
With the win - its 11th in the last 14 games - UCSB improves to 15-11 and 8-3 in Big West play. The Gauchos now trail league-leading UC Riverside (11-2) by just one game in the loss column after the Highlanders lost a 68-64 decision to a resurgent Cal Poly squad Thursday evening in San Luis Obispo. Cal State Fullerton, a team that had won six of eight coming in, falls to 13-14 overall and 7-6 in conference action.
Green and Wilson were the only two Gauchos to reach double figures for the second consecutive game after the pair did their best to carry the team in last Saturday's loss to the Mustangs. Green out-did Toni Thomas, the Big West's leading scorer, scoring 24 points -- her second highest total of the season. The San Jose, Calif. native, who has now led all scorers in the last four games, finished 12-of-19 from the floor. Green was tremendous defensively, as well, recording nine rebounds, four blocked shots, and two steals.
Wilson, one of the best all-around players on the West Coast, showed why Thursday night finishing one rebound and one assist shy of her first-career triple-double. She racked up 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting, to go with nine rebounds and nine assists. The native of Sacramento, Calif. also added a game-high three steals and one block.
Thomas scored 23 points on 9-for-21 shooting from the floor to lead four Titans in double figures. Charlee Underwood tallied 11 to go with a team-high seven assists, while Ariel Adams and Dayana Frias chipped in with 10 apiece.
Much like in the first meeting between these two teams December 30, the Titans looked sharp from the outset and jumped out to an early lead. Fullerton hit five of its first nine shots in the game and took a 10-6 lead after a jumper from Frias at the 16:05 mark. The Titans' advantage extended to six -- their largest of the night -- at 14-8 following an Adams' layup roughly four minutes later.
UCSB responded with a 7-2 spurt to trail by one at 16-15 at 9:27 keyed by Wilson's first of two three-pointers, a driving layup by Franey, and a Green jumper from the free-throw line. The Gauchos took their first lead of the evening at 21-20 on a Wilson layup three minutes later and closed the first half on a 14-3 run capped off by a Franey hit from downtown. Santa Barbara scored the final nine points of the period to lead 35-24 at the break.
Leading 44-31 with 15:18 remaining in the second half, UCSB watched the visitors shave ten points off its lead to trail by just three at 52-49 following a three from Underwood at the 9:12 mark. Wilson then skied up for a defensive rebound, dribbled the length of the court splitting two defenders in the paint, and scored to put the Gauchos back on top by five. After a Thomas jumper, Santa Barbara got a pair of free throws from Wilson and a three-point hit from LaShay Fears to take an eight-point advantage at 59-51 with 6:17 remaining.
The Titans would score seven of the next nine pull to within three once more with 1:39 left on the clock, but Green scored on the block and Wilson sank two at the foul line to put the game out of reach at 65-58 with 1:09 to play. Underwood connected from distance the next time down to bring Fullerton to within four, but Whitney Warren scored on a beautiful 2-on-1 pass from Wilson and UCSB held on for the 70-64 win.
The Gauchos made 28-of-57 attempts from the field, 49.1%, while the Titans shot 37.1%, making 26 of their 70 shots. UCSB held a slim 41-40 advantage on the glass despite allowing 16 on the offensive end. Santa Barbara improved to 13-2 this season when controlling the rebounds. The Gauchos owned the paint, 32-12 and their bench out-scored the Titan reserves 11-2.
The stage is now set for Saturday's showdown with first place UC Riverside. UCSB will try to avenge an early season loss to the Highlanders and remain in the hunt for a share of the Big West regular season title Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome. A win would pull the Gauchos even with UCR in the loss column.