March 7, 2009
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Already with the No. 1 seed in the Big West Conference Tournament next week, UC Santa Barbara's women's basketball team fended off a frisky Long Beach State team to earn its 20th win of the season, 74-62, at the Pyramid.
UCSB now has won 20 games for the 12th time in its past 14 seasons and finishes Big West play 15-1 for the second straight year. UCSB's overall record is 20-9 as they reached 20 wins in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2003-04 and 2004-05.
The 49ers fall to 8-21 and 4-12 in conference play and will not advance to next week's tournament.
That proved to be almost dangerous.
With an 18-point second half lead, Gottlieb pulled much of her playing rotation and sat them, allowing several Gauchos to get some heavy minutes. However, playing for their conference tournament lives, the 49ers battled back and got the game to 62-56 with 1:55 left.
But Sha'Rae Gibbons buried six straight free throws over the final two minutes to ice the game. Gibbons had 14 points, six rebounds, an assist and a steal. Jordan Franey had 10 points and three rebounds while Green and Emilie Johnson each had seven points.
Whitney Warren, playing in her final regular season conference game had six points while Kat Suderman, the other senior playing in her final conference game, had four points and three boards. Meagan Williams added some solid minutes, getting five points and two rebounds to go with the team's lone block.
Lauren Pedersen and Sha'Rae Gibbons were dialed in during the first half as the duo combined to go 5 of 5 from three-point range. Pedersen finished the first 20 minutes with 13 points on the heels of her 28-point outburst on Thursday vs. UC Riverside.
In the first half UCSB burned the nets with a 58.3% clip (14-for-24) and were able to take a 34-29 lead into the break.
The Gauchos have guaranteed themselves a berth in the WNIT by clinching the Big West regular-season crown. They can earn the conference's automatic NCAA Tournament berth by winning next week's Big West Tournament in Anaheim.
With two byes, the No. 1 seeded Gauchos will play on Friday. Tickets to the Big West Tournament are available by clicking here. With every ticket purchased, fans will receive a free UCSB T-shirt.