Jan. 5, 2013
LONG BEACH - The Long Beach State women's basketball team dug deep and pulled out a hard-fought 52-45 victory over reigning Big West champion UC Santa Barbara Saturday evening at the Walter Pyramid.
The 49ers extended their winning streak to a season-long five games, marking the first time they have won five in a row since the 2005-06 campaign. LBSU also improved its home record to 8-2 on the year.
LBSU (9-5, 2-0 Big West) shot just 31.6 percent from the field but made up for it at the free throw line where it was 25-for-33. UCSB made its way to the charity stripe just 11 times. Long Beach State also committed a season-low 10 turnovers.
Sophomore Alex Sanchez led the 49ers with 12 points, while classmate Chantel Dooley, who left the game early with an injury, finished with seven points, three rebounds and three steals. Sophomores Ella Clark and Sigrid Skorpen also chipped in six points each.
It was all about defense in the first half as UC Santa Barbara made the first field goal with 13:02 remaining to tie the game at 3-3. LBSU had taken a 3-1 lead prior to that after Dooley made three free throws.
The Gauchos then pulled ahead, 7-5, before Dooley got the 49ers' first field goal with a layup at the 8:19 mark. Sanchez followed with a 3-pointer as Long Beach State continued on a 13-4 run to go on top, 20-11, with 2:34 to play.
UCSB (5-9, 1-1 Big West) eventually ended a two-minute scoring drought when Sweets Underwood completed a three-point play with 1:31 on the clock. Neither team scored the rest of the way as LBSU held a 20-14 advantage at the break.
UC Santa Barbara started the second period on a 13-4 spurt to hold a 27-24 edge before Lauren Spargo hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to even the score with 12:54 remaining. The two teams then went back-and-forth with five tie scores and four lead changes over the next nine-plus minutes.
A 3-pointer from Sanchez eventually gave the 49ers a 44-41 lead with 3:32 to go, but UC Santa Barbara would tie it up with 1:41 on the clock when Nicole Nesbit completed a three-point play.
LBSU came right back with a Devin Hudson layup and got the steal on the Gauchos' ensuing possession. After Long Beach State called a timeout, Sanchez was fouled and made 1-of-2 free throws with 53.9 seconds left.
Senior Mary Ochiltree then came up big on the defensive end, forcing a Gaucho turnover to give the 49ers possession with 30 seconds remaining. UCSB then started fouling, allowing Long Beach State to pull away for the 52-45 victory as it made 6-of-7 free throws down the stretch.
UC Santa Barbara registered a 34.6 field goal percentage and was paced by Nesbit's game-high 15 points. Underwood added 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The 49ers avenged their loss to UC Santa Barbara in the Big West Tournament championship game last year.
Long Beach State is back in action on Wednesday, Jan. 9, when it travels to Cal State Northridge for a 7 p.m. Big West showdown. The 49ers will then make their way to Hawaii on Sunday, Jan. 13.
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