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BIG WEST WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP

Slow Start Can't Stop UC Santa Barbara

March 16, 2003|Paul McLeod | Times Staff Writer

It took No. 17 UC Santa Barbara some time to get rolling in the Big West Conference women's tournament final, but the results were ultimately the same.

The Gauchos used stingy defense early and got 17 points from sophomore forward Kristen Mann, 16 points and 12 rebounds from the tournament's most valuable player Lindsay Taylor, and a good job off the bench from senior guard Debby Caine to beat the Tigers, 68-50, Saturday afternoon before 1,273 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

It was the seventh consecutive tournament title for Santa Barbara, which stretched its lead to as many as 26 points late in the game after making only 12 of 36 field-goal attempts in the first half.

Forward Gillian d'Hondt had 20 points and nine rebounds for Pacific (16-14), which had its school-record-tying eight-game win streak snapped.

Mann said that Santa Barbara (26-4) has a goal of getting into the Sweet 16 at next week's NCAA tournament.

"There's no doubt in my mind that we [will] get there," she said.

First-year Pacific Coach Craig Jackson agreed.

"I think Santa Barbara will do some good things in the tournament," he said.

Although Santa Barbara was out of sync offensively in the first half, Pacific also struggled. The Tigers made only six of 22 from the field in the first 20 minutes, and only two of those in the first 11 1/2 minutes.

Santa Barbara broke a 5-5 tie by scoring the next eight points and led, 13-5, after a three-point play by guard Mia Fisher with 11:45 remaining in the half.

The Gauchos extended their lead to 19-8 with a six-foot baseline jumper by Fisher with 8:42 to go. Jasmine Ewing broke Pacific's scoring drought 20 seconds later with a driving lay-up

Over the next six minutes, Santa Barbara made only three of its next 11 field-goal attempts. Pacific responded with a 16-4 run and trailed, 23-22, after a three-point basket from Nancy Dinges with three minutes remaining in the half.

But Caine's put-back with a second left in the half put Santa Barbara ahead, 30-23.

Midway through the second half, the Gauchos extended the lead to 15 on their way to another title.

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