Dec. 21, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Freshman center Alyssa DeHann scored a game-high 17 points and blocked eight shots leading No. 20 Michigan State to a 69-45 victory over UC Santa Barbara Wednesday night in the Thunderdome. Jenna Green led the Gauchos, who shot a season-low 30% from the field in the loss, with 13 points and nine rebounds.
With the win, MSU improves to 8-2 this season, while UCSB falls to 4-7 after winning three of four prior to Wednesday's contest.
Green led the Gauchos in scoring for the sixth time in the last seven games and made 5-of-14 attempts from the floor. The only other player to score in double figures for Santa Babara was freshman forward Jordan Franey, who tallied 12 points and made 3-of-6 shots from behind the three-point arc. Sophomore point guard LaShay Fears scored just two points and committed eight turnovers but she did tie a season-high with six assists.
DeHaan, the tallest player UCSB has seen this season at 6'9", made 7-of 8 shots to lead the Spartans and also hauled in nine rebounds. Senior guard Victoria Lucas-Perry added 15 points - all in the second half - and dished out six assists. Sophomore forward Aisha Jefferson recorded a double-double for MSU with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
After the visitors took a 16-10 lead at the 6:42 mark of the first half on a lay-up from DeHann, junior guard Jessica Wilson connected from downtown, Green converted on a three-point play after being fouled on a lay-up, and Franey drained the first of her three three-point hits of the evening, capping a 9-2 run to give the Gauchos their first lead at 19-18. UCSB went into the locker room leading 27-26.
It was a completely different story in the second half as Michigan State scored the first eight points and used a 24-6 run over the first seven minutes to open up a 50-33 advantage with 12:07 left to play. The Spartans came out in a full court press and forced six turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the period.
Santa Barbara countered with a 6-2 spurt after three-pointers from Franey and freshman guard Meagan Williams to pull within 11 at 52-41, but the Spartans held a double-digit lead for the remainder of the game and ultimately took their largest advantage of 24 at the final horn.
"I thought we played very well in the first half," head coach Mark French said. "We defended them well and took them out of what they were trying to accomplish offensively. We were looking for a second half effort similar to the other night at Pepperdine and we obviously didn't get it."
UCSB shot 26.7% in the second half, making just 8-of-30 shots, and shot a season low 30% for the game. MSU shot 51.6% after halftime, making 16-of-21 attempts and shot 45.2% overall. The Gauchos were out-rebounded for the seventh time this season, 51-31 and the Spartans secured 21 offensive boards, leading to a 16-7 advantage in second chance points.
"They were a great defensive team and that's a big reason we shot the ball so poorly, so you've got to give them credit for that." French said.
The Gauchos return to the court after Christmas and will open Big West Conference play Thursday, Dec. 28 at UC Riverside. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m.