Jan. 7, 2012
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FULLERTON, CA - UC Santa Barbara's Emilie Johnson found teammate Kirsten Tilleman wide open under the basket for the go-ahead score with 53 seconds remaining and Johnson added a pair of free throws for some breathing room, lifting the Gauchos to a, 39-37, victory over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday afternoon at Titan Gym.
The loss dropped the Titans to 7-8 overall and 1-3 in the Big West Conference, falling in the 38th consecutive meeting with UCSB dating to 1995. The Gauchos improved to 6-7 overall and notched their first win in league play this year, evening their record at 1-1.
Megan Richardson scored a game-high 14 points to lead Fullerton, which shot just 33 percent from the floor and 30 percent in the second half, while Mya Olivier scored 10 points and added eight rebounds to lead the Titans on the boards.
After a jumper from the corner by senior Alicya Crisp tied the game at 35 with 1:22 to play, UCSB rallied for the winning basket out of a Fullerton timeout as Johnson, double-teamed at the top of the key, found Tilleman unguarded underneath on the left side and the junior dropped in only her second basket of the game for the two-point lead.
The Titans missed their tying chance at the other end and Johnson, who led the Gauchos with 11 points, hit both ends of a 1-and-1 after Tilleman, who finished with a game-high 12 boards, grabbed an offensive rebound off a miss by Nicole Nesbit for a four-point cushion.
Fullerton then missed its final three shots of the game, getting only a pair of free throws by Mya Olivier with four-tenths of second remaining for the final points of the contest.
A dismal shooting first half by both teams ended in a 17-14 advantage for the Titans at the break as they hit five of their final nine shots, keying an 11-6 run, after opening 1-for-8 from the floor to take the lead. The Gauchos, who shot just 24 percent in the first period, scored the first basket of the game (a three-pointer by Johnson) before both teams went without a point until Megan Richardson scored inside to make it 3-2 with 15:20 remaining.
Kelsey Adrian then opened the second half with a three-pointer to tie the game, but a 7-0 run over a two-minute span by the Titans gave them their largest lead of the contest at 24-17 with 16:24 to play. A 6-0 burst by the Gauchos brought them back to within one, but a three-pointer by Alex Thomas started a 7-1 spurt for Fullerton, building its advantage back to seven points at 31-24 with 11:46 to go.
That's when UC Santa Barbara caught fire, using an 8-1 run capped by a pair of free throws by Sweets Underwood to tie the game at 32-32. Freshman Tailer Butler then hit 1-of-2 from the line to regain the lead for the Titans, but they went cold from the floor, going scoreless for five minutes until Crisp's three-pointer while the Gauchos mounted their comeback.
Cal State Fullerton takes a short break from Big West play with only a single game next week as the Titans head north to take on CSU Bakersfield on Saturday (Jan. 14) at 2 p.m. in a doubleheader with the Fullerton men's team, which meets the Roadrunners later that night at 7 p.m.