With 13 seconds remaining in regulation, it was junior point guard Onome Jemerigbe who received the inbounds pass at the top of the key and drove in for the game-winning layup to hand the UCSB women’s basketball team its first win of the season, 61-60 over Cal State Bakersfield.
“I just knew that we needed a score,” Jemerigbe said. “I started off slow but just kept my head up and kept playing. Perseverance and not giving in, just fighting back.”
Although Jemerigbe missed her free throw attempt after drawing a foul in route to the basket, a block by freshman forward Kali Jones was the final play that secured the Gauchos’ victory.
Despite trailing by an 11-point deficit with 3:11 left in the third quarter, a late 14-4 run was the catalyst for Santa Barbara’s comeback win. A total of four Gauchos scored in double figures as the team shot 47.2 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from beyond the arc but had a season-high 26 turnovers.
“You find a way to win because you get stops,” Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “When it’s a one-possession game, everything matters. Sometimes as coaches you draw plays and sometimes you have to go make a play, and she [Jemerigbe] made a play.”
The come-from-behind win improves UCSB’s overall record to 1-2 while the Roadrunners remain winless at 0-2.
From the game’s beginning, it was Jones with the hot hand, scoring eight of her 13 points on 4-4 shooting in the first quarter. She finished with her first double-double of the season, adding 16 rebounds.
Bakersfield showed its willingness to shoot the three-point ball early, making 3-6 shots from long distance. A late make from beyond the arc by redshirt junior forward Erika Williams with 19 seconds left captured CSUB’s 15-14 lead to close the quarter.
Williams was the Roadrunners’ second-leading scorer with 13 points and shot 4-7 from long distance on the night. Overall, CSUB shot 43.8 percent from deep, making 7-16 attempts.
A total of four lead changes occurred in the second quarter as both teams traded points. However, Bakersfield’s defense managed to limit Jones to just two shot attempts in the quarter, restraining her to one attempt from the field in the entirety of the second half.
Ending the back-and-forth scoring was a three-pointer by CSUB freshman guard Addi Walters. The perimeter shot was the spark to the Roadrunners’ 11-3 run, resulting in their largest lead of the game at 35-29 to enter halftime.
Scoring the first points in the second half was a three-point basket by UCSB sophomore guard Makala Roper. Despite a 0-2 shooting performance in the first quarter, she tied Jones for the team lead in points with 13. A reserve off the bench, she finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field and behind the three.
However, Bakersfield’s ability to restrain UCSB’s plan to feed Jones in the paint eventually led to the emergence of senior forward Batabe Zempare.
Held to two points on 1-5 shooting in the first half, Zempare scored the Roadrunners’ first field goal of the third quarter. The score prompted Cal State Bakersfield’s 8-0 run which resulted in its 11-point lead of 47-36.
Zempare would go off for 10 points in the fourth quarter and finished with a game-high 16 points. While her late scoring rally helped keep CSUB in the game, the Gauchos’ Jones did not believe she had lost the battle in the paint.
“It was easy,” Jones said when asked about the matchup with the senior forward. “But the second half, she did start slipping the screens. I just started focusing on getting offensive rebounds and put backs.”
Guiding UCSB’s comeback was the scoring outburst of freshman guard CoCo Miller. Scoreless in the first half, she erupted for all 10 of her points in the second half. She was responsible for seven points during the Gauchos’ 14-4 run.
“She [Miller] got two layups, hit a three and stopped trying to pass it to everybody,” Henrickson said. “She’s a confident kid, she can shoot it.”
Providing some valuable minutes off the bench was sophomore small forward Taylor Farris as she recorded a game-high four blocks. Santa Barbara’s defense held Bakersfield to a 38.2 shooting percentage and tallied a season-high 10 steals.
A pair of made free throws by Zempare helped CSUB take a 56-53 lead but a clutch three-pointer by Jemerigbe was the equalizer to force the 56-56 tie.
UCSB ended up taking a 59-58 lead after a layup by Roper but were caught inattentively on defense by a backdoor cut and layup by Zempare to hand the Roadrunners a 60-59 lead.
Due to the new NCAA rule that permits the advancement of the ball to halfcourt after a timeout is called and a score has been made with under a minute remaining, UCSB was able to call a timeout to set up the inbound pass to Jemerigbe.
In spite of its 26 turnovers, UCSB outrebounded CSUB 43-24 and outscored the Roadrunners’ bench 28-15.
Santa Barbara is right back on the road at Oregon this Sunday, Nov. 22. Tip-off will be at 12:00 p.m. in Matthew Knight Arena.