Nov. 16, 2008
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Sunday was the first official game of the Lindsay Gottlieb regime at UC Santa Barbara and the Gauchos appear to be in good shape with their new head coach roaming the sidelines.
UCSB opened the 2008-09 season with a 75-66 victory over the University of San Diego as Lauren Pedersen poured in a career-high 27 points in the victory.
Three other Gauchos scored in double figures as Kat Suderman and Emilie Johnson each had 11 points and Whitney Warren added 10. Johnson, a freshman, was making her first official collegiate start and played 30 minutes while Warren added eight rebounds and Suderman had three rebounds and two blocks.
Pedersen tied her previous career-high with 19 points in the first half as the Gauchos led by as many as 13 points in the first half.
Leading 35-25 at the break, UCSB saw the Toreros (1-1) rally back and tie the game with 9:18 remaining. But Pedersen made a pair of layups soon thereafter for a 50-46 advantage and the Gauchos never trailed the rest of the way.
UCSB went up by 12 points with 2:51 left on Warren's layup before USD hit two three-pointers late to bring the game to 71-66 with 23 seconds remaining.
Johnson, however, knocked down a pair of free throws to ice it.
The Gauchos shot 36 times from he charity stripe as Pedersen also had a career night from the free throw line, making 11 of 11. The senior from Brear also set career highs in field goals made with seven and attempted with 17. She pulled down seven rebounds and also had four assists.
It all added up to Gottlieb's first career victory as a head coach. "To be honest, I got a little emotional in the locker room because it's such a great group," Gottlieb said. "As a young coach you really think about `Gosh what will it be like when I'm a head coach?' and you kind of think about this moment. The fact that it was here, in this place, and with the way those young women played, I couldn't have asked for anything else. I know it's just one game but the type of effort they showed and their ability to find a way, when they struggled a little bit in the second half offensively, that's the team I want to coach. "We're not perfect, we have to do things better, but as a coach you want to sit back and say those are the kids I want on my side."
Playing in her first game in nearly a year - and her first game that counts since the 2006-07 season - Jenna Green played 18 minutes, scoring six points with a rebound and assist. Jordan Franey added nine points, four assists and three rebounds off the bench as the Gauchos shot 40.7 percent from the field and went 28 for 36 from the free throw line.
"I think we had a calmness about us the whole time," Gottlieb said. "I think that poise carried over to a lot of different aspects and you definitely saw it at the free throw line. At the end, when they hit those two threes, I wasn't worried because I knew they were going to foul us and we just had a look about us like we were going to step and hit free throws. That's a good feeling as a coach."
UCSB's next three games will be on the road, the first one on Thursday at Fresno State. That game, like all UCSB women's basketball games, can be heard on KTMS 990 AM, or followed online through Gametracker at UCSBgauchos.com
The Gauchos' next home game is Thursday, Dec. 4 vs. the University of Nevada at the Thunderdome at 7 p.m. Tickets are available by calling (805) 893-UCSB, coming to the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics building on camus or by clicking here.