Dec. 22, 2010
LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. - As the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team has heated up, it has been a pair of freshman who have helped provide the spark.
Veterans Emilie Johnson, Kelsey Adrian and Mekia Valentine have all been solid fixtures in the stat sheets for the Gauchos, but as Nicole Nesbit and Melissa Zornig have matured in their rookie campaigns, UCSB has taken off.
Santa Barbara won for the sixth time in its past eight games to even its record at 6-6 as Nesbit and Zornig played a big part in the Gauchos' 71-49 victory over Siena on Wednesday afternoon.
Zornig scored a career-high 13 points - 11 coming in the second half - and Nesbit added seven points, four assists and three steals as UCSB has rebounded from an 0-4 start to even its record heading into Big West Conference play next week.
"It's a huge transition, definitely the speed, but I think me and Nicole have definitely adjusted to it well," said Zornig of the Division I game, who hit three 3-pointers and added two steals.
The Gauchos shot 56% from the floor, the second time on the trip that the team hit over half of its attempts. UCSB finished its New York trip 2-1 with only a nine-point loss to No. 18 St. John's preventing the Gauchos from a perfect east coast swing.
"This was our sixth non-conference win which is the most in my tenure," UCSB head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said of improving to 6-6. "More than anything this gives us so much confidence and the team has really bonded on this trip so hopefully we can turn that confidence into a swagger as we go into Big West Conference play."
Zornig entered the game and buried her first attempt to give UCSB a 17-5 lead with 11:52 left in the first half then hit two more treys to give the Gauchos a 37-23 lead at halftime.
Siena cut the Gauchos' lead to 10 midway through the second half, but a quick 9-0 spurt - highlighted by five points from Nicole Nesbit - allowed UCSB's lead to swell up to 19 points.
That lead eventually turned to 63-43 on Destini Mason's fastbreak layup with 4:40 left in the game and UCSB later took a 22-point lead on two separate occasions.
UCSB will have a week off for the Christmas break before opening conference play at Long Beach State on Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live online by clicking here and AM 990 KTMS with the pregame show starting a half-hour before tipoff.
Santa Barbara does not return home until Jan. 6 when it hosts UC Davis.
Tickets to women's basketball games - and any home UCSB athletics event - can be purchased by calling (805) 893-UCSB or online by clicking here.
The Intercollegiate Athletics Ticket Office has two parking spaces adjacent to the building and is now open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., making it easier than ever for fans to purchase tickets. The two parking spots, designated specifically for the Ticket Office, are also available during weekday hours, which are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.