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Taylor, Mann lead Gauchos to first Sweet 16 bid

3/23/2004

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.