January 10, 2013

Gauchos Unable to Tame Tigers, Fall 64-52

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara's home woes continued on Thursday evening as the Gauchos fell, 64-52, to visiting Pacific in their first Big West conference game in the Thunderdome this season. 

The loss marked the Gauchos' fifth straight on its home court this season; they are now 1-5 in the Thunderdome. UCSB falls to 5-10 on the season and 1-2 in conference games while Pacific improves to 12-2 and 2-0 in league.

"Of course it's always disappointing to lose, but this team is ok," said head coach Carlene Mitchell. "I know that when I walk in the locker room and I see it in their eyes. I told them to play what I said like a broken record last year in their heads, and that was, 'we will win when it counts.' I believe that, there is no doubt about it, and I am on board with those 11 players in that locker room. I know we are going to get it done."

To open the game, Pacific climbed out to a 7-0 lead before Sweets Underwood got the Gauchos on the board with a jumper from the top of the key with 16:31 on the clock. The Tigers pushed their lead to 15-4 before the UCSB offense finally gained some momentum and went on a 7-0 run of its own to cut the Pacific lead to four with 11:07 to go.

Pacific responded with six unanswered points to give them a double-digit lead for the second time in the half. The Gauchos were able to cut their deficit down to single digits, but would come no closer than five points. Angelei Aguirre's jumper with 2:37 left cut the Tiger lead to 29-22 and proved to be the last basket of the stanza.

Each team struggled with turnovers in the first, tallying nine apiece. The Tigers shot 48% from the field (12-for-25) to open the game while holding the Gauchos to just 10-of-26 (38%). 

The Tigers closed the door on the Gauchos early in the second as they opened with a 21-8 run that gave them their biggest lead of the game at 50-30 with 11:55 remaining. UCSB was able to ice the Tiger offense as it put up nine unanswered points to cut the Pacific lead back to 11 with 9:06 on the clock, but that's the closest it would come in the half.

UCSB saw improved shooting in the second half as they made 9-of-19 from the field (47.4%) to finish the game shooting 42.2%, its best performance since the Dec. 5 win against Loyola Marymount. Pacific ended shooting 47.1%.

Junior Nicole Nesbit paced the Gauchos offensively for the third consecutive game as she put up a team-leading 13 points off the bench to go with three assists. Sweets Underwood posted nine points and seven rebounds and Melissa Zornig finished with nine points and four assists.

The Tigers had three players score in the double digits: Ashley Wakefield (19), Kendall Rodriguez (13) and Kendall Kenyon (10). Wakefield scored 13 of her points in the second half alone. Kenyon led all players with nine boards as the Tigers out-rebounded UCSB, 32-24.   

"Just like when we were at Long Beach, at times we were reluctant and didn't have an attacking mentality," Mitchell said. "We went to the free-throw line more in the second half, so I think we stepped it up a little bit."

The Gauchos shot 81.3% from the charity stripe (13-of-16). Their 16 trips to the line were the most in the last six games (since the Dec. 15 game against Washington).

UCSB will be back in action on Saturday, Jan. 12 against UC Davis. Game time is slated for 2 pm at the Thunderdome. The game will be broadcast on AM 1290 KZSB and online at UCSBgauchos.com. A live video stream can be found at BigWest.tv.

Tickets for women's basketball are available at the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here.