SANTA CLARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara jumped back into the win column with a gritty 67-62 victory in Santa Clara. The trio of Gaucho seniors led UCSB with 50 combined points.
Snapping a two-game losing streak, the Gauchos even their record at 2-2, while the Broncos drop to 1-4.
With 16:45 left in the game, Santa Clara retook the lead after allowing the Gauchos a 5-2 run to open the second half. The Broncos led throughout the entirety of the first, but UCSB's offense refused to slow down.
The Gauchos pulled out in front again when Melissa Zornig penetrated and kicked the ball out to a wide-open Nicole Nesbit who knocked down her look from downtown. UCSB went up 41-39 with 16: 26 left, and they would never trail for the rest of the game.
Nesbit was the top-scorer, as she dropped a season-high 19 points on the Broncos. The senior netted the Gauchos' last six points with three consecutive perfect trips to the free-throw line.
Behind Nesbit in the scoring category was Zornig who put up 18 points to go along with her eight rebounds and two assists.
Destini Mason posted her first double-double of the season with 13 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
The Gauchos matched Santa Clara overall with 39 rebounds, as they held the Broncos to 11 boards below their season average.
Using their speed on defense, the Gauchos picked up five steals and forced Santa Clara into 21 turnovers. Onome Jemerigbe had a team-high two swipes on the night.
The freshman picked up her first with less than 6:30 left in the first half. On the play, Jemerigbe picked Montana Walters' pocket at mid-court and sprinted to the other end of the floor for the easy layup, putting the Gauchos within one at 22-21.
The Broncos were in control of the game early after a hot offensive start. In the game's opening possessiotn, Walters took the ball to the top of the arc and fired off a three-pointer to give her team the early 3-0 lead.
From there, Santa Clara gained its largest lead of the game at 16-6 in just over eight minutes of game action.
In addition to Jemerigbe's steal and score, the Gauchos reduced the deficit to one point on five separate occasions before halftime.
Down 34-33 to open the second half, UCSB picked up an attacking mentality on offense after Nesbit drove through the lane and picked up the foul on the Gauchos' first possession. Nesbit sunk her two free throws and gave UCSB its first lead of the game.
Following her fellow senior on the Gaucho's next offensive take, Mason weaved her way through the paint and picked up a hard foul on her way to the rim.
In the second half alone, the Gauchos reached the charity stripe eight times and went 10-16. After struggling to get to the free throw lines in their first three games, UCSB went a season-high 19-29 at the line against Santa Clara.
The Gauchos will return to the Thunderdome on Tuesday when they will host the Hampton Lady Pirates. Tip-off is scheduled for 7p.m. Season tickets are still available for women's basketball. You can get yours today by visiting the Ticket Office, calling 805-893-UCSB (8272), or clicking here.