What a 67-62 final score says is that the UCSB women’s basketball team beat Santa Clara Saturday night, earning its first road victory of the year. What it doesn’t show is how close the game was.
After trailing the entire first half, UCSB took its first lead of the game with 18:49 to play. While Santa Barbara wouldn’t trail for the remainder of the night, the game then seesawed back and forth as no team could pull away.
With a minute to go, a one-point lead and the ball, senior guard Nicole Nesbit drove and missed. Senior guard Destini Mason grabbed the offensive board, earning another possession. The second-chance basket missed again for Santa Barbara, but Mason brought down another offensive board and this time was fouled. Nevertheless, she missed both free throws, opening the door for the Broncos.
However, Santa Clara couldn’t take advantage, turning the ball over on a three second violation. With 17.3 seconds remaining on the clock, the Broncos almost came up with the steal, tipping the ball out of bounds. On the second chance, UCSB was forced to call a timeout, unable to inbound the ball.
“We had a press set that should’ve given us three options, but they did a good job of denying Nic,” Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said. “Then, we went to trying to have Destini get open as well, but they had a lot of pressure on the ball. They had 6’4’’ on the ball, so it had to be a bounce pass to get the ball inbounds.”
On the third shot, the Gauchos successfully inbounded to Nesbit, the team’s top free throw shooter, who went 4-4 from the free throw line down the stretch to ice the game.
“We’ve done this hundreds and hundreds of times, probably thousands,” Nesbit said. “You can’t worry about the atmosphere; nothing’s different about it.”
The win snaps a two-game losing streak for the Gauchos as they improve to 2-2. With the loss, Santa Clara falls to 0-4.
“It’s definitely exciting to get that first road win,” senior guard Melissa Zornig said. “We came in there upset from the last game (against St. Mary’s) and we went in there to fight tonight. We really wanted to win the game, so we went out with a lot of energy.”
Santa Barbara’s seniors took the reins in earning their team its first road victory, combining for 50 of the Gauchos’ 67 points. Nesbit, Zornig and Mason finished with 19, 18 and 13 points, respectively. Mason also tallied 10 rebounds for her first double-double of the season.
“Our seniors stepped up and made critical plays,” Mitchell said. “They didn’t shoot it the best, but Mel found ways to get to the free throw line, Destini got crucial second-chance opportunities late in the game and Nic was able to keep the ball and knock down big free throws late.”
The biggest difference for the Gauchos was in the turnover category. UCSB turned the ball over just nine times, compared to Santa Clara’s 21 giveaways, leading to 26-6 advantage in points off turnovers. UCSB was also able to contain Santa Clara’s height inside, limiting their two 6’4’’ players to 14 combined points.
“We stress our defense,” Nesbit said. “We knew going into this game they had a couple legit 6’4’’ players, so we knew we were going to have to full front. You can’t play behind them.”
UCSB next hosts Hampton tomorrow.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of November 25, 2013’s print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo by Peter Vandenbelt of The Daily Nexus.