Seniors Combine for 54 in Loss to St. Mary's

MORAGA, Calif. – Despite their best offensive performance of the season, UC Santa Barbara could not keep up with St. Mary's who came out on top in the high-scoring affair 89-79.

Melissa Zornig had a career night, registering game-highs of nine assists and four steals, while also leading the Gauchos with 19 points.

The three Gaucho seniors scored 54 of the team's points, as Destini Mason added a career-high 18, while Nicole Nesbit netted 17. Mason also led UCSB with seven rebounds.

Playing efficient with the ball tonight, the Gauchos gave up just eight turnovers, while the Gaels gave up possession 17 times.

UCSB's record moves to 1-2, while St. Mary's remains perfect at 4-0. 

In the opening minutes, Zornig put the Gauchos on the board first after she scored on a baseline drive. St. Mary's offense soon found its rhythm and responded with eight straight points. 

Mason would cut Gael's scoring streak short, though, with her first made shot from downtown. Through the rest of the first half, the Gauchos never trailed the home team by more than nine points.

Looking to cut the lead before halftime, Kendra Morrison scored on a baseline jumper with 2:46 left in the first, which triggered a 7-2 stretch for UCSB. Mason followed the sophomore by picking up a steal at midcourt and easily finished with a lay up on the other end.

Putting UCSB four points shy of the lead, Zornig found Nesbit deep in the right corner who knocked down her three-point look.

The Gauchos started the second half on defense while facing a six-point deficit. 

UCSB forced Danielle Mauldin to miss a short-range jumper on the Gael's opening possession, and Morrison followed the shot to collect the physical defensive rebound.

Now on offense, Mason sunk a three-point shot from the left wing to cut the lead in half, 45-42. That basket triggered a 9-4 UCSB run, as Mason made another basket while Nesbit and Zornig also added two each.

The hot second half start put the Gauchos within one at 49-48, but they would not get any closer. On three separate occasions, UCSB trailed by only a single point.

However, St. Mary's retook control of the game with five unanswered, starting with 14:21 left in the game.

The Gaels eventually garnered a game-high 13-point advantage with 3:48 left.

After going on an 8-3 run in about 90 seconds of game time, UCSB was down just 83-75. On the offensive charge, Zornig put up five points, while Kristine Brance capped it off with her first three-pointer of the season.
 
The Gaels closed out the game with Kate Gaze sinking four straight free throws.

UCSB will continue its road trip to Santa Clara this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The game will be featured on AM 1290 the Santa News-Press Radio Station, as well as online at UCSBGauchos.com.