Nov. 3, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team picked up right where it left off in the second half of Wednesday's win over Vanguard, shooting 50% from the field in a 79-55 exhibition victory over visiting Westmont Saturday afternoon in the Thunderdome. All 10 players that were active scored in the convincing win over the Warriors.
UCSB improved to 2-0 in exhibition contests this season after the pair of victories over the NAIA squads this week. Santa Barbara will open the 2007-08 regular season this Friday, November 9 against BYU at 7:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome.
For the second consecutive game, senior guard Chisa Ononiwu led the Gauchos in scoring, finishing with a game-high 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting. She also went 2-of-4 from beyond the three-point arc, while grabbing five rebounds and dishing out three assists. Junior forward Kat Suderman was in the starting lineup against Westmont and finished with 10 points to go with five rebounds, while Sha'Rae Gibbons also got the starting nod and tallied 10 of her own.
Senior guard Jessica Wilson returned to the lineup after missing Wednesday's game due to a violation of team rules and connected on four of her five shots for eight points. She also recorded a game-high eight assists. Sophomore Ariana Gnekow and freshman guard Courtney Collishaw also finished with eight points for UCSB.
Sophomore guard Jessica Case led Westmont with 11 points, while junior Annie Johnson and former Dos Pueblos standout Amber Stevens each tallied nine.
UCSB was in control from the opening tip and raced out to an 8-2 advantage in the first 2:27 following a slashing lay-up by Ononiwu. The Gauchos increased their lead to eight points at 13-5 two minutes later after Ononiwu scored inside, was fouled on the play, and converted the free throw for the three-point play.
From that point Santa Barbara out-scored Westmont 30-20 over the next 15 minutes to take a 43-25 lead with 1:43 remaining in the first half. After a lay-up by Case, Gibbons hit a pair of free throws and Suderman knocked down a 15-foot jumper to close out the half with the Gauchos leading 47-27.
UCSB shot an impressive 66.7% from the floor in the first 20 minutes, making 18 of 27 shots, while the visitors shot just 39.1% (9-for-23). Santa Barbara also controlled the boards, out-rebounding Westmont 18-8 in the decisive first half.
It was more of the same after intermission with the Gauchos scoring nine of the first 11 points to take a commanding 56-29 lead with 15:33 remaining. UCSB's biggest lead of the afternoon came with 7:41 left after another Ononiwu jumper put the home team on top by 29, 71-42.
Despite cooling off to just 34.4% (11-for-32) in the second half, the Gauchos' advantage never dipped below 23 points. UCSB shot 50% for the game, making half of its 58 shots, including 6-of-13 from downtown (46.2%), and recorded 21 assists on 29 made baskets. After struggling to control the glass against Vanguard, the Gauchos took some steps in the right direction and out-rebounded the Warriors 39-19 Saturday.
UCSB was shorthanded once again, with four players out of the lineup. Senior center Jenna Green missed her second straight game with back issues, as did freshman Margaret Johnson with an ankle injury. Two of Wednesday's starters were on the sidelines as well, as Whitney Warren and Lauren Pedersen sat out for precautionary reasons. Suderman and Gibbons took their place in the starting lineup.
"I thought we definitely took some steps in the right direction," head coach Mark French said. "We did a better job on the glass and played a little bit better defense in the post. I would have like to see us sustain our effort in the first half in the second, but we played a great Westmont team that will go on to have a fantastic season and they kept playing hard."