The Gauchos just can’t catch a break this season. It seemed like the UCSB women’s basketball team had everything fall into place for the first time this season, holding a nine point lead with 4:32 remaining against UC Davis. However, a 12-0 run by the Aggies help send the game into overtime where they went on to defeat the Gauchos 60-54.
With another loss to UC Irvine just two days earlier, UCSB now falls to 0-20 for the year and 0-7 in conference play. Both the Anteaters and the Aggies fell to Cal Poly over the weekend, but Irvine was able to pick up its first conference win of the year to move to 4-18 overall, 1-6 Big West. Davis is now 9-10 overall, 4-3 Big West.
“It’s very easy at their age to want to throw the towel in,” Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said. “We may be the only 16 people in here that believe that it’s going to get turned around, but all you can do is keep jabbing away.”
Although UCSB has played its best prolonged stretch of basketball over the past three games, it has faltered down the stretch of each of them. This was on display most against Davis, when the Gauchos did something they hadn’t done all year by taking a sizable lead into the final minutes.
After a pair of free-throws by sophomore point guard Onome Jemerigbe gave UCSB a 45-36 lead with 4:32 to go, the Aggies took control. Two three-pointers by Kelsey Harris helped cut the lead to one before a layup by Celia Marfone with 1:48 remaining gave Davis its first lead since very early in the first half.
“They changed up their defense,” Mitchell said. “We had a decent rhythm going up against their 3-2. They went to a half-court trap and we had a couple of turnovers against it that made us lose our rhythm.”
Trailing by three in the final seconds of regulation, the Gauchos looked to free up freshman guard Makala Roper. After being unable to find anywhere to go with the ball, Jemerigbe took the game into her own hands, stepping back to fire a deep three, her only attempt of the game, which miraculously went in to tie it at 48-48 and send the game into overtime.
“I knew we needed a three,” Jemerigbe said. “The confidence that the team had in me willed me to make it. I just got out there and knocked it down with confidence.”
With all the momentum on its side, UCSB was unable to outplay the Aggies in the back-and-forth extra session. A three-point play by Jemerigbe and a three-pointer from Roper helped keep the game close at 54-56, but the Gauchos went 0-3 from the field with two turnovers in the final 48 seconds as they fell, 60-54.
Harris led the way for Davis with 19 points on 5-10 from downtown, while Jemerigbe put in a team-high 14 points to go along with six assists. Jemerigbe leads the Big West with 5.6 assists per game during conference play.
The game also marked the first time in Mitchell’s four years as head coach that the Gauchos have gone to overtime.
Thursday’s game against Irvine similarly went down to the wire, as UCSB overcame a 10-point second half deficit to cut the lead to one. A jumper by senior center Clair Watkins made it 39-38 with just over a quarter of the game remaining. However, that was the closest Santa Barbara would get.
Junior guard Jasmine Ware put in a career-high 21 points on 10-19 shooting, but it wasn’t enough as the Anteaters converted from the line down the stretch, eventually winning 61-58.
After another winless weekend, Mitchell had one message to give to her team.
“Do not give up,” Mitchell said. “March Madness, last time I heard you win 3 or 4 or 5 in a row and you’re dancing so we’ll keep that mindset.”
The Gauchos will head on the road this weekend for a single game against Hawaii on Thursday.