Dec. 18, 2010
QUEENS, N.Y. - When the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team needed a basket, it was their leader Emilie Johnson, who was happy to oblige.
As Fresno State drew closer and closer in a fast-paced second half of the St. John's-Chartwells Holiday Classic tournament game, Johnson kept hitting jumper after jumper en route to a season-high 21 points in UCSB's 64-62 victory. The win was the fourth in a row for the Gauchos, who are now 5-5. Fresno State falls to 7-4.
Johnson's basket with 50 seconds left gave the Gauchos a 64-60 lead as UCSB held off the Bulldogs. Santa Barbara took a 35-25 halftime lead only to see Fresno State rally to force seven second-half ties.
UCSB will face host No. 18 St. John's on Sunday at 11 a.m. PDT in the championship game of the four-team tournament.
"They're a terrific team," UCSB head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "We're looking forward to it. We came to New York to play St. John's. That's why I put it on the schedule. We had to get through a tough Fresno State team to do that, but our players responded.
"We took care of business. We get to play for a championship against a great team in New York. We're excited about it."
Johnson finished with five assists and two steals while Nicole Nesbit had a career-high 14 points - on 7 of 8 shooting - and Sweets Underwood turned in a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Nesbit also had three assists and three steals.
Fresno State entered the game averaging over 30 three-point attempts, but an aggressive defense by UCSB forced 22 total Bulldog turnovers, many of them coming as the Gauchos prevented Fresno State from making kick-out passes for three-point attempts.
However, Fresno State's defense led to several second-half turnovers by the Gauchos as the Bulldogs were able to shoot themselves back into the game. UCSB committed 12 second-half turnovers, as Fresno State was able to turn those into buckets.
An example: the Bulldogs were outscored 12-0 on fastbreak points in the first half, but each team scored 15 fastbreak points in the final tally.
In the second half, Johnson had six baskets in seven attempts. Most of those were mid-range jumpers that needed no help from the rim of getting in.
After going through a miserable shooting stretch in which she hit just 17.6% of her shots in a four-game span, Johnson has been on fire. She is shooting 48.4 percent (31 of 64) over her past four games, averaging 18.3 points per game in that time.
Underwood, meanwhile, also remains hot. The sophomore is averaging 13.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in her last three games.
The game will air live online by clicking here as Josh Suchon, as with every game, opens a pregame show 30 minutes before tip-off.
Santa Barbara does not return home until Jan. 6 when it hosts UC Davis.
Tickets to women's basketball games - and any home UCSB athletics event - can be purchased by calling (805) 893-UCSB or online by clicking here.
The Intercollegiate Athletics Ticket Office has two parking spaces adjacent to the building and is now open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., making it easier than ever for fans to purchase tickets. The two parking spots, designated specifically for the Ticket Office, are also available during weekday hours, which are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.