March 7, 1997 in Sports

Santa Barbara Holds Off UI Despite Nieman’s 26 Points

 

Amy Smith scored 25 points and UC Santa Barbara survived a second-half scare to beat Idaho 76-57 in a semifinal game in the Big West women’s basketball tournament Thursday.

Santa Barbara (23-5) advances to the finals Saturday against the winner of Thursday’s late UC Irvine-Long Beach State game. The Gauchos split with Irvine during the regular season and swept Long Beach.

Alli Nieman, the Big West Freshman of the Year, scored 26 points and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds to spark Idaho (14-14). She scored in double figures for the 19th straight game.

It was the 13th straight win for the Gauchos, who won their second game of the season this season over the Vandals.

Erin Alexander scored 15 points, Duckworth had 13 and Kristi Rohr contributed 12 for Santa Barbara.

The Vandals rallied to cut UCSB’s edge to four, 56-52, with 8:46 left, but following a timeout the Gauchos put together a game clinching 18-3 run.

“We have been working on our end-game situations in practice, largely because we haven’t had a real close game down the stretch,” said UCSB coach Mark French.

“They (the Gaucho players) were joking after the game that they wanted a little more practice on the end-game situations. I told them I have enough gray hair already.”

Santa Barbara dominated the first half, allowing Idaho to shoot just 28 percent and forcing 12 turnovers. The Vandals were just 2 of 9 from the free-throw line and just 1 of 9 from 3-point range.

“You can’t miss the front end of five one-and-ones from the freethrow line and have no perimeter game in the first half and expect to beat a talented club like UC Santa Barbara,” said Idaho coach Julie Holt.

Idaho finished its best season since Holt arrived three seasons ago and, by breaking even, enjoyed its first non-losing season in five years.

“We had a lot of firsts this season and I’m really happy with the progress we made, starting from our first day of practice until now,” said Holt.

“The improvement this season over the previous two years was remarkable, and I look forward to continuing that. I’m already excited and anxious to start next season.”

USCB 76, Idaho 57

Idaho (14-14) - Gussett 4-15 0-1 8, Nieman 10-17 3-5 26, Greenwood 3-4 2-3 9, Johnson 1-8 0-0 2, Skorpik 0-4 2-6 2, Ortner 1-3 0-0 2, Neuman 2-3 0-2 4, Stone 2-3 0-0 4, McDaniel 0-2 0-0 0, Blakley 0-1 0-0 0, Lemm 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-60 7-18 57.

Santa Barbara (23-5) - Smith 8-16 9-10 25, Alexander 5-15 2-3 15, Duckworth 3-4 7-8 13, Rohr 5-7 2-2 12, Clinesmith 2-4 0-1 4, Benjamin 1-2 0-0 2, Frial 2- 4 0-1 5, Lampson 0-4 0-0 0, Shadwell 0-2 0-0 0, Sims 0-0 0-0 0, Mahar 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 26-58 20-25 76.

Halftime - UCSB 35, Idaho 15. 3-point goals - Idaho 4-16 (Nieman 3-3, Greenwood 1-1, Johnson 0-4, Skorpik 0-2, Gussett 0-1, McDaniel 0-1, Blakley 0-1), UCSB 4-13 (Alexander 3-7, Frial 1-2, Lamson 0-3, Clinesmith 0-1). Rebounds - Idaho 41 (Nieman 11), UCSB 41 (Rohr 8). Assists - Idaho 13 (Gussett 5), UCSB 16 (Alexander 6). Total Fouls - Idaho 23, UCSB 22. Fouled Out - Idaho (Nieman). Technicals - none. Att. - 1,234.


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