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EAST REGIONAL AT SANTA BARBARA

UC Santa Barbara Coasts to 76-49 Win

March 21, 2004|Mike Terry | Times Staff Writer

GOLETA, Calif. — The night UC Santa Barbara had been waiting for since last May, when it learned it would play host to first- and second-round NCAA women's tournament games, started out poorly.

Santa Barbara was assessed a technical foul before the start of its game Saturday night against Colorado for not getting its starting lineup to the official scorer in time.

But after that, the No. 11-seeded Gauchos, behind 20 points by Mia Fisher and 16 by Kristen Mann, had little trouble defeating the No. 6 Buffaloes, 76-49, before 3,012 at the Thunderdome in an East Regional game.

Santa Barbara (26-6) plays No. 4 Houston on Monday and will be trying to reach the round of 16 for the first time in school history.

"That was as good a defensive effort as we've had the past several years," said Santa Barbara Coach Mark French after his team held Colorado to a 28.6% shooting night (12 of 42). "I had no inkling that we would be able to win by that large a margin."

Colorado, which had 15 points from Tera Bjorklund, ends its year at 22-8.

"We did not handle their pressure well, made poor decisions, and on the offensive end were not able to really counter their defense," Colorado Coach Ceal Barry said.

Before the tip-off, guard Kate Fagan made one of the two technical free throws awarded to Colorado. But once the game started, Santa Barbara played with a fire and commitment the Buffaloes could not match.

Within the first five minutes, the Gauchos led, 8-3, and continued expanding the lead until it reached 41-24 with 1:39 left in the first half.

Mann and Fisher each had 14 points in the first half for Santa Barbara, which looked equally at home running the fast break or setting up in the half court. As a team, the Gauchos shot 51.9% from the field, and made twice as many field goals (14) as the Buffaloes (seven).

In the second half, it didn't get any better for Colorado, which did not score its first field goal until Emily Warner made a layup with 11:53 remaining.

Houston 62, Wisconsin Green Bay 47 -- For four seasons, Chandi Jones has been there for Houston when the Cougars needed her most. And Saturday, with Houston playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 12 years, Jones was there for them again.

The talented senior guard had 18 of her 28 points in the second half to lead the Cougars to their first NCAA tournament victory, defeating No. 13-seeded Wisconsin Green Bay in the first game at the Thunderdome.

Jones made 10 of 18 shots (four of eight from three-point range) to lift Houston (28-3), which has won 13 in a row, 23 of 24 and is 19-1 this season on the road or at neutral sites.

Wisconsin Green Bay, which had 13 points by freshman forward Nicole Soulis, finished 23-8.

At the outset, it appeared the Cougars would not be tested. Wisconsin Green Bay players looked half a foot shorter than their opponents, which made driving into the middle nearly impossible.

The Cougars built leads of 15-6 and 25-17 but couldn't pull away until the second half.

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