The worst women's basketball season in school history came to a quick end for the once-powerful team at Cal State Long Beach Wednesday night, as UC Santa Barbara continued its recent mastery over the 49ers in the opening round of the Big West Tournament.
Center Christa Gannon scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and guard Cori Close had 14 points, eight assists and seven steals to lead the Gauchos over the 49ers, 74-46, at the Long Beach Arena. It was the sixth consecutive victory by the Gauchos over the 49ers, after losing 37 in a row to Long Beach.
It was a fitting end to an awful season for the 49ers, who had reached the NCAA tournament for 11 consecutive years.
Long Beach, wracked all season by dissension and disciplinary problems, finished 9-17, the first losing season in school history. The team tied a school record with 39 turnovers Wednesday, set a season low for total points and was whistled for three technical fouls, a sign of the frustration that has plagued them all season.
"They were calling each other names in their huddle and getting down on each other," Close said of the 49ers. "We didn't start strong, but that just made us get closer."
The Gauchos (16-11) made only seven of their first 24 field goal attempts and Long Beach grabbed an 18-13 lead with 6:42 to go in the first half.
But Santa Barbara went on an 18-0 run and took a 31-18 lead.
Long Beach missed 10 field goal attempts to open the second half and Santa Barbara built a 46-20 lead and later led by as many as 36.
"It's been a real learning experience this year," second-year Long Beach Coach Glenn McDonald said. "We had several new players and some walk-ons. We have to regroup next year and regain the recognition we've had in the past."
Santa Barbara, the defending tournament champion, plays Nevada Las Vegas at 9 tonight.
New Mexico State 73, Pacific 72--The Tigers' Tine Freil missed a driving, 10-foot shot in the key with two seconds remaining and the Aggies hung on to win. New Mexico State plays Hawaii at 7 tonight.