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BIG WEST WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT

Pacific, Santa Barbara Advance to Title Game

March 15, 2003|Paul McLeod | Times Staff Writer

Pacific is back in the championship game of the Big West Conference women's tournament for the second consecutive season, but there's no guarantee that Long Beach State Coach Dallas Bolla will return.

Bolla's 49ers were humbled, 71-51, in Friday's semifinal at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Guard Nancy Dinges scored 18 points and Gillian d'Hondt added 14 and eight rebounds for Pacific (16-13), which will play 19th-ranked UC Santa Barbara for the tournament title today at 1 p.m. Santa Barbara advanced by defeated UC Irvine, 83-50.

Long Beach (14-15) was never in the game after Pacific closed the first half with a 20-6 run and a 38-22 lead.

"It was frustrating," said Bolla, whose contract expires this spring. "We didn't play as hard as we could have."

Forward Glory Johnson of Long Beach led all scorers with 19 points.

Bolla, who has a 120-112 record in eight seasons, said that she expected to have her contract extended because she had already finished recruiting for next season. But Long Beach State Athletic Director Bill Shumard acknowledged that he has been evaluating the program, saying he would determine Bolla's status sometime next week.

Santa Barbara beat Pacific, 64-53, in last year's Big West final, but Pacific, which has a nine-game winning streak, was the only Big West team to defeat the Gauchos this season, scoring a 74-65 victory at Stockton on Jan. 18.

No. 19 UC Santa Barbara 83, UC Irvine 50 -- The Gauchos, expected to win their seventh consecutive tournament title, broke to a 12-2 lead only 3 1/2 minutes into the game. Two consecutive three-point baskets by Irvine guard Wendy Gabbe, who finished with a game-high 17 points, lifted the Anteaters briefly and they trailed, 15-12, with 12:14 to play.

But over the next seven minutes, Santa Barbara (25-4) used four three-point baskets as part of a 22-10 run for a 37-22 lead. The Gauchos' lead climbed to as many as 35 points in the second half.

Santa Barbara has won seven consecutive games since a 94-90 triple-overtime loss at third-ranked Louisiana State on Feb. 15.

Guard Jess Hansen led Santa Barbara with 16 points and six assists. Guard Mia Fisher added 15 points.

Santa Barbara made nine of 14 three-point shots and shot 53.4% overall.

Irvine (17-12) finished with its best record since the 1994-95 season when it was 19-12. A three-point basket with 6:31 to go by Gabbe, her final basket, gave the senior guard 1,000 points in her career.

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