MALIBU, Calif. – Behind Nicole Nesbit's career-high 26 points, UC Santa Barbara overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat Pepperdine 77-69 at the Firestone Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.
The Gauchos improve to 4-3 on the year and have now won two consecutive road games.
"It was a good win for us tonight," UCSB Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said. "In the second half, we were more aggressive on defense and we had terrific free throw shooting at the end."
Nesbit has now set her single-game scoring mark in back-to-back games. She led the Gauchos by shooting 8-15 from the field, 3-5 from downtown, and 7-7 from the free throw line.
As a team, UCSB knocked down 16 of their 17 tries at the foul line.
Also shooting perfect from the charity stripe was Melissa Zornig, who drained the last four free throws of the contest to keep the Waves out of reach.
The senior guard nearly recorded a double-double as she finished with 18 points and nine rebounds. Aiding in the UCSB comeback, she collected 12 points and seven boards in the second half alone.
At the 3:49 mark in the first, UCSB found itself down by 14 points after Bria Richardson knocked down a three-pointer to move the score to 33-19.
The Gauchos finally responded to Pepperdine by firing off a 10-2 run in the final 3:13 of the half.
Zornig started the run with a made jump shot from the left side. She, as well as Nesbit, went on to sink a long range shot before Mi'Chael Wright grabbed and offensive board and the put back to get UCSB within six at 37-31.
After the break, Zornig opened up second half play with a deep ball from the right wing to cut the lead in half.
The Waves managed to keep their lead through the first 9:30 of the second, but six straight UCSB points finally tied the game at 54.
On the tying play, Destini Mason picked up a defensive rebound and took it the other way herself. While at the top of the arc, she made a quick skip pass to a wide-open Jasmine Ware who finished on the baseline.
Mason finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, while Ware put up six points and five rebounds off the bench.
The Gauchos enjoyed high productivity from their reserves against the Waves, in particular from Ware and Kristine Brance.
The junior transfer found a season-high eight points and also added five rebounds. She scored all of her points in the second half.
Brance made back-to-back buckets for the Gauchos starting at the 7:40 mark in the second half. With her first take, she split two defenders on a crossover move and found her way to the basket for the open lay up.
She followed that display with a baseline jumper she nailed after creating space off a step back. The shot gave the Gauchos the 62-61 lead, an advantage they would never give up.
Of UCSB's final 15 points, 11 came from the free throw line as Pepperdine was forced to foul in the waning minutes of the game to keep up.
After giving up nine turnovers in the first half, the Gauchos only gave up possession four times after halftime. Conversely, the Waves coughed up the ball eight times in the last 20 minutes, compared to just six times in the first half.
UCSB will be back in action on Thursday when they take on Northern Arizona University. Tickets are available for the game at the Ticketing Office, on the phone at 805-893-UCSB, or online here.