November 19, 2007

Gauchos Bounce Back With 79-69 Win At Loyola Marymount

Nov. 19, 2007

Box Score

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Trailing 58-47 with 9:30 remaining, UC Santa Barbara closed the game on a 32-11 run to defeat Loyola Marymount 79-69 Monday night at Gersten Pavilion. The Gauchos shot a season-high 47.4% in their first road victory this season.

With the win, UCSB got a split on its weekend road trip and improved to 2-2 this season. LMU fell to 2-2 after dropping its home opener. The win was the Gauchos' first over the Lions since 2000.

Sha'Rae Gibbons continued her impressive start to the season, scoring a game-high 19 points to lead four Gauchos in double figures. The junior point guard made four of her first five shots and finished 6-for-10 for the game, while dishing out a team-high three assists and grabbing four rebounds. The 19 points tied her career-high that came in Santa Barbara's win over USC November 11.

Chisa Ononiwu had her best game of the season, finishing 6-of-9 overall and 3-for-4 from long range for 17 points to go with two rebounds and two assists. Jenna Green looked impressive as well tallying 14 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks, and two steals. Monday's performance marked her 11th-career double-double and the five blocks was one shy of her career mark. Jessica Wilson finished with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting to round out the scoring for UCSB.

The Lions were led by senior guard Amanda DeCoud, who scored 19 points on 7-for-16 shooting, while Jessica Vargas finished 6-for-9 with 17 points and Lisa Helmers added 12.

Looking to push the tempo early, Santa Barbara came out in a full court press and jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first minute and a half following a Gibbons 3-pointer and basket inside. UCSB then increased its advantage to 13-4 four minutes later following back-to-back triples from Ononiwu. After the Lions scored the next six points, the Gauchos answered with an 18-8 run capped off by consecutive buckets by Ariana Gnekow and a Jessica Wilson layup in the open court to take their biggest lead of the half, 31-18 with 3:42 remaining.

LMU pulled within nine at 33-24 following a two free-throws from Vargas, but the Gauchos scored the next four points to claim a 13-point lead once again at 37-24. Helmers knocked down a pair at the line and Vargas scored on a breakaway just before time expired as UCSB took a 37-28 lead into the locker room at intermission.

The nine-point halftime lead was Santa Barbara's first this season.

After missing seven of their first eight shots and shooting just 28% in the first half at Arizona State on Saturday, the Gauchos connected on 5-of-8 to start the game Monday. They would finish 15-for-26, 57.7%, including 3-of-6 from downtown in what was by far their most impressive half of the season.

The Lions came out in a zone defensively in the second half and used a 12-2 run to take their first lead of the game at 40-39 following a three-point play from Valerie Ogoke and a Helmers' 3-pointer. LMU then opened up a 48-41 lead following five straight points from DeCoud and pulled in front by 10, 56-46 on another Helmers' jumper with 10:19 remaining. Their biggest lead came less than a minute later when a DeCoud jumper increased the home team's advantage to 58-47.

But UCSB answered the bell, scoring 11 straight points on back-to-back triples from Ononiwu and Wilson, two baskets from Meagan Williams, and a Green free-throw over the next 3:08 to tie the score at 58-58.

After the Gauchos and Lions traded the next three baskets, Whitney Warren hit a pair of free-throws, Kat Suderman knocked down a jumper from the foul line, and Wilson scored in transition following two LMU foul shots to give UCSB a 67-64 lead with 2:03 left on the clock.

Gibbons then found Green for an easy basket and Santa Barbara outscored Loyola Marymount 10-5 over the final 1:35 to finish off the victory.

UCSB shot 38.7% in the second half, but knocked down 15 of its 19 attempts at the foul line after halftime in the comeback. The Gauchos shot a season-best 47.4% (27-57) for the game, while the Lions shot 39.7% (25-63). Santa Barbara edged LMU on the glass, 40-39 and scored 16 second-chance points on 15 offensive rebounds.

The Gauchos will now return home for a showdown with No. 3 Maryland Friday, November 23 at 7:00 p.m.

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