Dec. 30, 2006
FULLERTON, Calif. - After scoring just two points in the first half, junior center Jenna Green scored 21 in the second leading the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team to a 73-71 conference victory over Cal State Fullerton Saturday afternoon at Titan Gym. The Gauchos overcame a 16-point deficit with 14:32 remaining in the game, their largest come-from-behind victory this season.
After dropping their Big West Conference opener for the first time since the 1988-89 season on Thursday at UC Riverside, the Gauchos improved to 5-8 overall and 1-1 in league play with the victory. The Titans, who had won two of three entering Saturday's contest, fell to 7-8 overall and 1-1 Big West with the loss.
Green made 7-of-18 shots from the floor after starting just 1-for-6 in the first 20 minutes and led three players in double figures for UCSB. She led the Gauchos in scoring for the fifth consecutive game and finished with a season-high 23 points, which is one off of her career mark. Junior guard Jessica Wilson finished 6-for-11 and tallied 14 points, while sophomore forward Whitney Warren made half of her eight shots and added 10. Freshman forward Jordan Franey chipped in with nine points in 21 minutes off the bench. Green and Wilson each hauled in a game-high eight rebounds in the win.
The Titans were led by sophomore center Toni Thomas, who shot 8-for-14 from the field for 20 points, while senior guard India McDaniel added 16, and senior forward Charlee Underwood tallied 14. Thomas, the Big West Conference's leading scorer, also grabbed seven rebounds - six of which came on the offensive end of the floor.
Cal State Fullerton, looking for its first win over UC Santa Barbara since 1995, raced out to an 8-0 lead in the first 3:15 capped off with a jumper from forward Ariel Adams. As they would do on several occasions Saturday, the Gauchos responded with an 11-2 run to take the lead following a three-pointer from sophomore guard LaShay Fears and a layup from Green. UCSB led by as many as five in the opening half, but the home team scored the last six points after tying it at 26-26 at the 1:39 mark, to take a 32-26 lead into the locker room.
The Titans opened the second half with an 11-1 spurt to build their largest lead of the game at 16, 34-27, with 16:13 to play after McDaniel sank a free-throw. After the Gauchos pulled to within 11, Fullerton answered with five straight points of their own to go back ahead, 48-32. From that point, UCSB took over following a jumper from Wilson and a steal and layup by freshman Ariana Gnekow. The Gauchos scored 11 of the next 13 points to cut the deficit to just five at 50-45 at the 10:13 mark.
Cal State Fullerton looked to have to stemmed the tide when they got back-to-back threes from Andrea Adams to take a double-digit lead once again, 56-45. UCSB responded with a 7-0 run capped off by a Green jumper in the paint to trail by just four, 56-52 with 6:51 on the clock. The Gauchos then claimed their first lead of the second half when Warren put back the rebound off of a Green miss roughly three minutes later.
Santa Barbara took a five-point lead once again following a bucket in the paint by Green, but Thomas answered with a layup and Underwood knocked down a pair of free throws to trim the Gaucho lead to just one.
Leading 72-71 with just three seconds to play, Green was fouled and made one of two free throws. Out of timeout, the Titans inbounded the ball under the Gauchos' basket and got the ball to Thomas at half court. Thomas took one dribble and fired, but her desperation three sailed left as time expired and Santa Barbara completed the comeback.
The Gauchos, who had made just 37-of-128 shots (28.9%) in their two previous contests, shot the ball much better against the Titans, making 25-of-57 shots from the floor, 43.9%. Fullerton shot just 36.1%, hitting 22-of-61 shots, although the Titans did make 23-of-26 attempts at the free-throw line. UCSB entered the game shooting just 67.5% at the stripe, but shot better than its season average, as well, hitting 20-of-28 shots. The Gauchos made 3-of-12 attempts from behind the three-point line.
Santa Barbara controlled the glass and held a 42-30 rebounding advantage, including several key offensive rebounds down the stretch. After recording a season-high 14 offensive boards in Thursday's loss against the Highlanders, the Gauchos eclipsed that mark Saturday, pulling down 18 against the Titans.
Turnovers were an issue for the Gauchos again, as UCSB turned the ball over a total of 31 times after giving it away a season-low 13 times at Riverside. The Titans finished with 24 miscues and held a 32-24 advantage in points off turnovers.
The Gauchos return to the Thunderdome for their conference home opener Thursday, Jan. 4 against defending co-champion Long Beach State at 7:00 p.m. UCSB will then entertain UC Irvine Saturday, Jan. 6 at 2:00 p.m.