HONOLULU, Hawai'i– Melissa Zornig's career-high 28 points weren't enough against Hawai'i as UC Santa Barbara fell 73-60 at the Stan Sheriff Center on Thursday night.
UCSB falls to 8-20 on the season, while also sliding to 3-12 in conference play. The Rainbow Wahine improve to 16-11 overall and now own a 10-5 Big West record.
Zornig shot an efficient 11-of-20 from the field to lead the game in scoring and also pulled down a team-best six boards, while Nicole Nesbit was the only other Gaucho to reach double figures with 11.
Hawai'i has proven to be one of the top defensive teams in the league, but the biggest difference in the game with UCSB proved to be with the offensive rebounds. The Rainbow Wahine reeled in 17 offensive boards and capitalized on their second chances with 25 points. In the same category, UCSB only put up seven.
In the early goings of the game, the Gauchos played Hawai'i close as there were five lead changes and five tied scores after eight and a half minutes of play.
At the 11:31 mark, Hawai'i broke the 13-13 tie when Morgan Mason sunk her first three-pointer of the night. Mason would go on to finish second on the team with 16 points.
The Rainbow Wahine improved on the lead and went up 35-21 going into the halftime break.
After being outrebounded 22-to-10 in the first half, Santa Barbara was stronger on the boards in the second half in picking up 13 rebounds to the Rainbow Wahine's seven through the first 13 minutes.
The Gauchos made their move for a comeback in the opening eight minutes of the half by limiting Hawai'i to only two rebounds. During that span, UCSB chipped away at the double-digit deficit by scoring 15 points.
Destini Mason got the Gauchos started with five straight points, first off a three-point play after she attacked her way through the right side of the key. She followed that play with a baseline jumper. The senior completed the game with nine points and four rebounds.
By the 7:07 mark, UCSB trailed by 10 points but soon made a run at the Hawai'i lead.
After the media timeout, Mason picked up a steal at half court after the Gauchos put pressure on the Rainbow Wahine's backcourt. Zornig finished the play on the other end by finishing with the transition layup, making the score 58-50.
In the second half, the Gauchos came up with six of its game-total seven steals. UCSB took those takeaways to the hoop for eight total points.
The Gauchos came within seven points with 3:34 remaining in the game after a 6-2 run. All three seniors added two points each in the scoring affair as Nesbit and Mason knocked down jumpers, while Zornig made a perfect 2-for-2 trip to the foul line.
Hawai'i went on to answer than run with five consecutive points of their own and played their way to the 73-60 final score.
UCSB will be back in action this Saturday when they host Cal Poly in the Thunderdome at 2 p.m. The game will be the last time the three Gaucho seniors will play at home, and they will be honored before tip-off during the Senior Day ceremonies.