Gauchos Open Big West Play by Throttling Long Beach State

Dec. 30, 2010

Box Score

LONG BEACH, Calif. - Not even a week off for a holiday break could cool off the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team.

The Gauchos won for the seventh time in their past nine games, using a 23-7 run to open the second half and cruised to a 70-43 victory over Long Beach State in the Big West opener for both teams on Thursday night at the Walter Pyramid. The victory pushed the Gauchos over .500 for the first time this season at 7-6.

Long Beach State falls to 2-12, 0-1.

Emilie Johnson had 14 points to lead four Gauchos in double figures as Mekia Valentine had 13 points, Kelsey Adrian had 11 and Sweets Underwood added 10.

UCSB, which had been shooting 45.9 percent from the floor in its past eight games entering Thursday's conference opener, shot 47.5 percent while holding the 49ers to just 30.4 percent shooting.

"It's a different mentality in conference," said Emilie Johnson, who had six rebounds and four assists. "We have to take these one at a time. Our conference is really competitive. I feel like we're focused and we're not overthinking each game."

The Gauchos hit 6 of 11 three-pointers and outrebounded Long Beach 43-30 while also forcing 25 LBSU turnovers.

Margaret Johnson had a season-high tying six points and seven rebounds while Underwood led the team with eight boards. Destini Mason had seven points for the Gauchos off the bench.

The victory at the Pyramid exorcised the demons of a loss last year where UCSB committed six turnovers in the final 4:35, leading to a 21-8 Long Beach run in a 65-62 victory.

This time, the Gauchos' big run was the key.

Valentine's 16-footer early in the second half gave UCSB a 38-28 lead, pushing back into a double-digit advantage after the Gauchos took a 15-point lead with just over six minutes left in the first half.

A runner from Nicole Nesbit and another Valentine bucket pushed the Gauchos' lead to 47-28 with 13:09 left, part of a second-half opening 13-3 run that Long Beach finally ended on Courtney Jacob's jumper with 13 minutes left.

The Gauchos, who defeated Long Beach State by 23 points in the team's last meeting in last season's Big West Tournament, didn't stop after hot start to the second half.

UCSB extended its lead to 63-36 on a fastbreak layup by Destini Mason with 6:31 to go.

UCSB returns home on Thursday, Jan. 6 for the first time since Dec. 11 when the Gauchos host UC Davis in the Thunderdome at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live online by clicking here and AM 990 KTMS with the pregame show starting a half-hour before tipoff.

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.