Gauchos Struggle in 79-56 Loss to Northern Arizona

Gauchos Struggle in 79-56 Loss to Northern Arizona

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Nicole Nesbit led UC Santa Barbara with 17 points, but it was not enough to keep up with Northern Arizona's offense in the 79-56 decision at the Thunderdome on Thursday night.

Melissa Zornig finished 11 points and a team-high four assists, while Jasmine Ware paced Santa Barbara with six rebounds coming off the bench.

Nesbit's team-high scoring mark put her just 18 points away from entering the 1,000-point club. Averaging 18.8 points per game, the senior is poised to become the 25th Gaucho to eclipse 1,000 career points.

Nesbit scored five straight points for UCSB when the team found itself down early 16-9 in the first half. On back-to-back possessions, the senior was able to find the basket because of plays made on the defensive end.

With 10:33 left in the first, Ware swiped the ball from Brittani Lusain and found Nesbit making a break up the left sideline. 

Nesbit was forced away from the hoop by an NAU defender, but she managed to draw contact after hitting her baseline jumper. The guard sunk her free throw to complete the three-point play, but she wasn't done yet.

On the ensuing inbounds play, Nesbit picked off the initial pass and finished with an easy lay up from the right block.

By the end of the first half, UCSB's leading scorer had 13 points and helped her team to a 30-30 tie going into the locker room.

Despite the Gauchos eliminating a four-point NAU lead to end the first half, it was the Lumberjacks who opened the second with a 15-2 run. 

Head Coach Carlene Mitchell stopped the clock at 14:11 to refocus her team. Initially, UCSB responded well as Onome Jemerigbe penetrated and kicked the ball out to an open Zornig who knocked down a shot from downtown to make it 45-35.

Despite the shot, the Lumberjacks did not slow down on offense. 

Northern Arizona attacked primarily in the paint and shot 62.5 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes, while UCSB was limited to shooting 29.6 percent in the second.    

The Gauchos will take next week off to focus on final exams, but they will return to the floor on December 15th when they visit Kansas State, Coach Mitchell's alma mater.