11:00 PM ET, March 22, 2004
Thunderdome, Santa Barbara, CA
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) -- UC Santa Barbara can wear its `1 Team, 1 Dream' T-shirts for at least another week.Lindsay Taylor had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and the 11th-seeded Gauchos upset Houston 56-52 Monday night to reach the round of 16 for the first time."I don't think it's hit yet," said Kristen Mann, who added 17 points.The Gauchos (27-6) will play either second-seeded Connecticut or seventh-seeded Auburn in Saturday's East Regional semifinals in Hartford, Conn. They are the seventh team seeded 11th or lower to make the final 16."This means a lot to us, but certainly beating a very, very good Houston team is a big part of that. I don't think I'm going to think about the next game for a while," said Santa Barbara coach Mark French, whose navy shirt got soaked in a locker-room dousing by his players.The third-seeded Lady Cougars (28-4) had their school-record 13-game winning streak snapped in their first NCAA tournament appearance in 12 years and only third ever."They really brought it to us," Houston coach Joe Curl said. "Our offensive ineptness at times was because of their intensity and emotion."Ninth-ranked Houston was 18-1 on the road this season, but the Lady Cougars couldn't contend with Santa Barbara's scrappy defense and a raucous, partisan crowd of 4,061 in the Thunderdome."That crowd was special," Curl said. "It was just tough to communicate out there."Houston senior Chandi Jones scored 24 points in her final college game, and Sancho Lyttle added 15. Taylor's defense helped contain Lyttle, who fouled out with 2:52 remaining."That kid is a big-time player. She changes the game," Curl said of Taylor, a senior who is Santa Barbara's career scoring leader.Jones missed a potential tying jumper from near Houston's bench with 5 seconds left and Santa Barbara's Lisa Willett grabbed the rebound. Fans started to rush the floor, but officials called a foul on Houston's Kiki Harris and added 2.1 seconds to the clock."I felt I got a great shot off. I felt like it was going in, but it just came up short," Jones said.Willett sank one of two free throws before time expired, triggering a round of dancing and hugging by the Gauchos at center court."Our crowd was amazing," said Willett, a Santa Barbara native. "It was really, really fun to get the win. We stuck together and we pulled out something that we'll all remember for a really long time."Santa Barbara is 7-9 in 10 NCAA tournament appearances, having reached the second round the last three years. The Gauchos held Houston to 20 points in the first half, making them 9-0 when they do so."Our crowd really got into it and really helped us get back in the swing of things," Taylor said. "The best thing was our team really stuck together. Our coaches prepared us for runs. In the second half, Houston always comes back and wins games and Chandi usually takes over, so we were really prepared for that."Mann hit an open jumper from the left side with the shot clock winding down to give Santa Barbara a 53-30 lead with 1:19 remaining. Houston missed on its next possession and Mann grabbed the rebound, one of her nine boards. The Gauchos held a 43-36 rebounding edge.Santa Barbara's April McDivitt, who played three seasons at Tennessee, hit two free throws for a 55-50 lead with 54 seconds left.Joann Overstreet got fouled and made both to get Houston to 55-52 with 44 seconds left before Jones missed.The Gauchos scored the first six points of the second half to take their largest lead, 30-20.Then Lyttle and Jones took over as they have so often this season. They sparked a 16-5 run that gave Houston its first lead, 36-35, since the final six minutes of the first half. Lyttle had 11 points while showing a variety of inside moves and scoring over Taylor. Jones had four.But the Gauchos answered with consecutive 3-pointers by Mann and McDivitt for a 41-36 lead. Taylor only scored four more points the rest of the game, but Mann and McDivitt combined for six of the Gauchos' final seven points.Neither team led by more than seven points in a defensive first half that kept the shooting percentages low.The Gauchos ended the half on a 16-5 run, including eight points by Mann and consecutive baskets by Taylor, for a 24-20 lead at the break.
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