Gauchos block out Fullerton at T-Dome

The UCSB women’s basketball team already had set the school record for blocked shots in a season, already had a player set the single-season mark for blocks and ranks in the top-10 nationally in blocked shots.

So, why not re-set a record the 2009-10 Gauchos already held? Already with the single-game blocks record in UCSB history, the Gauchos re-upped the ante on Saturday afternoon in the Thunderdome, swatting away 15 of Cal State Fullerton’s shots in a 55-43 victory.

In fact, Santa Barbara blocked almost as many shots as the Titans made (17), topping the previous school record of 13 blocked shots this year’s crop of Gauchos had on Dec. 15 vs. UCLA.

“We really challenged our team this week to get stops against their shooters and we did,” said head coach Lindsay Gottlieb, whose team snapped a three-game losing skid and improved to 9-16 overall, 6-7 in the Big West.

The win pushed UCSB into a tie for fifth place in the Big West with the Titans (12-15, 6-7), but the Gauchos hold the tiebreaker, having beaten CSUF twice this season. Actually, the Gauchos extended their winning streak over Fullerton to 35 straight games. The last time UCSB lost to the Titans came in 1995.

Fullerton made just 17 of 70 of its shots and produced its lowest point total of the season.

Mekia Valentine led the block party with nine swats – two shy of her record 11, set against UC Irvine on Jan. 2 – while Chris Spencer poured in a career-high 16 points. Meagan Williams dropped in 15 points and Emilie Johnson added 12. Valentine pulled down 17 rebounds.

Tied at 20-20 with 5:32 left in the first half, Margaret Johnson scored four straight points to put UCSB up 26-20 at the half. UCSB wouldn’t trail, or be tied, again.

The Gauchos pushed their lead to 11 points on one of Spencer’s two 3-pointers with 7:40 remaining in the game and the lead stayed near double digits for the duration.

Williams’ free throw with under a minute left gave UCSB its largest lead of the game, 53-40, before Spencer pushed the final tally to 12 with two free throws in the waning moments of the game.

UCSB will conclude its home schedule for the season on Saturday, Feb. 27 vs. Cal Poly, following Wednesday’s 7 p.m. game at Cal State Northridge.

Next Saturday’s game, at 2 p.m., will be Senior Day, when UCSB bids adieu to seniors Jordan Franey, Ariana Gnekow, Jessie Goble, Meagan Williams and Chris Spencer. It will also be the unveiling of the fifth legend in the inaugural “Legends of the ‘Dome” game as UCSB honors another member of its storied women’s basketball history.

And, with Cal Poly in the Thunderdome, the Gauchos and Mustangs renew the Blue-Green rivalry in a series for sustainability.

The game airs live on AM 990 and will stream live online at