February 24, 2010

It's Gauchos Who Say Olé to Matadors

Feb. 24, 2010

Box Score

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Playing without their top rebounder, top shot blocker and second-leading scorer barely affected the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team, as the Gauchos defeated Cal State Northridge without the services of junior center Mekia Valentine, who missed Wednesday's game due to illness.

Instead, three Gauchos scored in double figures as UCSB held off a scrappy Northridge team, 67-54, to improve to 10-16 overall and 7-7 in the Big West. Northridge falls to 4-21, 2-11. UCSB has won two straight games.

Emilie Johnson scored a game-high 21 points - her third career 20-point game, all of which have come this season - as Meagan Williams added 16 points and freshman Sweets Underwood had her first double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds, a career-best.

Despite all that, however, the Matadors pulled within two points at 56-54 with 4:02 remaining in the game. But the Gauchos clamped down in the final few minutes of the game, as Northridge missed its final five shots and two free throws.

With three buckets and six free throws, UCSB was able to put the game away. Free throws have been one of the Gauchos' Achilles' heel this season, but the Gauchos hit 17 of 25 on Tuesday.

Underwood and freshman Megan Kritscher, who started in place of Valentine, played admirably in the post for the Gauchos as Underwood hit all five of her shot attempts and Kritscher had four points, a rebound and a blocked shot in 19 minutes.

Kritscher and Underwood's biggest impact was felt defensively, though, as the duo helped hold reigning Big West Player of the Week Jasmine Erving in check. Erving was coming off a 31-point game, but was held to 13 points on just 4 of 15 shooting.

"I cant say enough about Sweets," head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "Her ability to come in against not just a good post player, but a really good post player was huge."

UCSB will host Cal Poly on Saturday in the Thunderdome, renewing the two school's Blue-Green rivalry series for sustainability.

Saturday's game will also honor five Gaucho seniors and UCSB Athletics will unveil its fifth "Legend of the `Dome."

In a joint effort with Soles4Souls, UCSB's women's basketball team will be collecting new and used shoes at Saturday's game to help with the relief effort in Haiti.

Tickets are available by clicking here, calling (805) 893-UCSB or stopping by the Ticket Office inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus.

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