November 11, 2007

UCSB Comes Roaring Back To Defeat USC 69-63 In Overtime

Nov. 11, 2007

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team trailed visiting USC for nearly 40 minutes, but used a 16-3 run over the final 4:40 of regulation to tie the score with four seconds remaining before going on to defeat the Trojans 69-63 in an overtime thriller Sunday afternoon in the Thunderdome. Sha'Rae Gibbons scored a career-high 19 points in 25 minutes off the bench to lead the Gauchos to the improbable victory.

With the win, UCSB improves to 1-1 on the young season while USC falls to 0-1 after dropping its opener.

The Gauchos trailed 50-37 with less than five minutes remaining in a game where points were at a premium, but responded with an amazing run to force overtime. Gibbons hit one of her four three-pointers on the afternoon to start things off and followed with a three-point play after she was fouled going to the basket to cut Santa Barbara's deficit to seven, 50-43.

After USC's Aarika Hughes got free inside for a layup, junior forward Kat Suderman scored on back-to-back possessions for UCSB and senior guard Chisa Ononiwu hit a pair of free-throws to bring the Gauchos to within three, 52-49 with 42 seconds remaining. The Trojans' Morghan Medlock then missed the backend of a one-and-one and junior point guard Lauren Pedersen found Suderman for an easy basket to beat the shot clock on the ensuing possession as the home team trailed by just two, 53-51 with 15 seconds on the clock.

Gibbons then stole the inbounds pass to give Santa Barbara the final possession. After a timeout, the Sacramento, Calif. native found senior guard Jessica Wilson alone on the wing and the two-time All-Big West selection knocked down what appeared to be the game-winning triple from the left side.

After the Gauchos stormed the court in celebration, the two teams shook hands, and many of the 1,062 on hand had already filed out of the Thunderdome, the officials concluded that Wilson's foot was in fact on the line, which left the score tied at 53-53 at the end of regulation.

Once the confusion was settled and overtime finally got underway, UCSB had all the momentum from its thrilling comeback and scored the first nine points of the extra session to build a 62-53 lead over the first 2:25. It was Gibbons and Suderman leading the way and the pair combined for nine of the Gauchos' 16 points in overtime.

The Women of Troy cut the deficit to three following consecutive three-point hits from Hughes and Allison Jaskowlak, but sophomore forward Jordan Franey answered with a layup and Wilson hit two free-throws the next time down to put the game out of reach, 66-59 with 31 seconds to play. UCSB held on for the final 69-63 margin and its first victory of 2007-08.

Gibbons' game-high 19 points came on a very impressive 6-for-7 from the floor - including a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond the three-point arc. She also recorded four rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Her new career point total eclipsed her previous high of eight that came at UC Irvine December 30, 2004. She scored a total of three points in 10 games in 2006-07. After finishing 0-for-6 with zero points in Friday's loss to BYU, Suderman went 8-for-14 against USC and finished with 16 points, with 14 coming in the second half and overtime. Wilson scored 10 points and hauled in a team-high six rebounds.

The Trojans were led by Brynn Cameron's 18 points on 7-for-16 shooting, while Medlock finished with 17 and Hughes added 11.

UCSB struggled against USC's zone defense early on and missed its first 12 shots. The Women of Troy raced out to an 8-0 lead in the first 3:20 and led by as many as 12 in the opening period. The Gauchos shot just 25% (8-32) in the first half but solid play on the defensive end kept them in the game. Despite the poor shooting performance, Santa Barbara trailed by only six (26-20) at the break.

"The team worked extremely hard to hang around and put themselves in a position to make a run," head coach Mark French said. "Obviously we feel great after coming back and getting a victory, but its important to note how well we played defensively to keep things close when our offense was struggling. I was impressed with the way the team kept fighting."

For the game, the Gauchos shot 34.3% (24-70) and the Trojans finished at 37.7% (23-61). UCSB made 7-of-20, 35% from distance, while USC was slightly better, making 9-of-24, 37.5%.

Santa Barbara held a 49-43 advantage on the boards, with 19 coming on the offensive end of the floor. USC turned the ball over 28 times, while UCSB gave it away 20 times.

The Gauchos will now hit the road for the first time in 2007-08 when they travel to Arizona State Saturday, November 17 at 2:00 p.m.

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