November 10, 2006

Jessica Wilson's Career-High 30 Points Lift Gauchos to 88-73 Victory Over Portland State

Nov. 10, 2006

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Jessica Wilson established a new career-high with 30 points and LaShay Fears chipped in with 15 to lead the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team to an 88-73 victory over visiting Portland State Saturday afternoon in the Thunderdome.

With the win, the Gauchos have now won 12 of their last 13 season openers and improve to 1-0, while the Vikings head south to play fellow Big West member Cal State Northridge at 0-1.

Wilson eclipsed her previous career total of 22 points that came last season in a 82-71 home loss to Cal Poly January 21. She finished 12-for-20 from the floor and added six rebounds, five assists and six steals, which was one shy of her career-best. The last Gaucho to score 30 points was Kristen Mann, who tallied 33 in UCSB's victory over Idaho in the Big West Tournament title game in 2005.

In addition to Wilson and Fears, two other Santa Barbara starters scored in double figures, with junior center Jenna Green totaling 14 to go along with 11 rebounds and freshmen forward Jordan Franey adding 11. UCSB got 11 points off the bench, led by freshman Ariana Gnekow's five.

"I really liked our energy today," head coach Mark French said. I thought (Portland State) had a great game plan coming in and we had some really excellent performances to counter that."

After Portland State took an early 6-3 lead on a pair of three pointers from Heather Arns and Jenni Ritter, UCSB went on an 18-2 run, getting eight points apiece from Wilson and freshman forward Jordan Franey to take a 21-8 lead at the 14:44 mark. The Vikings then responded with a 10-0 spurt of their own, capped off with a Kelsey Kahle layup to pull within three at 11:42.

Portland State climbed within one following a jumper from Ritter with 4:08 left to play in the opening half, but the Gauchos countered with a 13-4 run to take a 51-41 advantage into the locker room at halftime. Wilson scored 15 of the Gauchos' final 30 points and finished with 24 at the break. Fears also scored 12 of her 15 points before halftime.

UCSB took control in the second half and built its biggest lead less than four minutes in at 63-48 after Green put back her own missed shot. The Vikings cut the deficit to just six with 3:01 left to play, but Santa Barbara responded, scoring the final nine points of the game and held on for the final 88-73 victory.

For the game, the Gauchos shot 43.7% (31-71), while the visitors made 30 of 64 shots from the floor, 46.9%. UCSB also held a 45-34 rebounding advantage.

"We didn't shoot the ball particularly well, especially in the first half, but we gave ourselves a lot of extra opportunities crashing the offense rebounds and that paid off for us. Anytime you score 88 points, you've got to be pleased with the offense."

The 88 total points scored was the highest total in nearly two years. UCSB defeated Cal Poly 88-64 in January of 2005 in San Luis Obispo.

The Gauchos return to the court this Sunday when they travel to Los Angeles to take on 23rd-ranked UCLA at 2:00 p.m. Last season Santa Barbara defeated the Bruins 90-81 in overtime in the Thunderdome led by Wilson's 21 points.