Many students are heading home for Thanksgiving right now, but for the UCSB women’s basketball team, there is business to be taken care of over the holiday break.
After spending last weekend on the road, the Gauchos return home for a two-game home stand, taking on Hampton tonight.
Santa Barbara is currently 2-2 on the year. The Lady Pirates come to the Thunderdome on the third of a five-game road trip, holding a 3-1 overall mark.
UCSB grinded out its first road win of the season against Santa Clara Saturday. With a final score of 67-62, the Gauchos found a way to come from behind after trailing the entire first half.
“From this game, we learned we need to bring energy from the start,” senior guard Melissa Zornig said. “I feel that game wouldn’t have been close if we’d started the game with a lot of energy.”
As a shorter team, one highlight was the team’s ability to contain the Broncos’ pair of 6’4’’ centers.
“It’s good to know that Santa Clara had two 6’4’’ players on the floor most of the night and I think we were only outrebounded by one,” Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said. “Our post defense was much better. We’re finding different ways to win and all our players are contributing.”
To secure the victory, the trio of Gaucho seniors put the team on their backs, combining for 50 of 67 points. This season, senior guards Nicole Nesbit, Destini Mason and Zornig have combined for 65.3 percent of the team’s scoring.
Zornig especially found her stride over the weekend, posting 19 points and a career-high nine assists against St. Mary’s, and then scoring 18 against Santa Clara.
“[Zornig is] finding different ways to score,” Mitchell said. “I think early in the year, she was taking a lot of threes and at times they weren’t falling. Now, she has that attack mentality of, ‘Hey, if my three’s not falling, I own the midrange jumper,’ and then also being able to get into the lane and being able to draw fouls.”
As UCSB settles into the season, one note of improvement the Gauchos will be looking for this week is consistency, as the team has, on multiple occasions this year, started out slow and had to come from behind.
“We need to understand that we have the ability to close out games and put two halves together and sustain that energy,” Nesbit said. “We need to play as a team because it’s going to take all of us.”
Similar to UCSB, Hampton will rely on its defense, averaging 66 points per game while holding teams to 57.8 points per game. This season, Santa Barbara has averaged 67.8 points per game while giving up 64 points per contest.
Hampton also has an impressive trio of scorers. Freshman guard Malia Tate-DeFreitas averages 18 points per game, leading the Lady Pirates. Senior forward Alyssa Bennett ranks second on the team in scoring with 16.8 points per game and senior guard Nicole Hamilton averages 14.3 points and 3.5 assists per game.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Thunderdome.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of November 26th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Peter Vandenbelt of the Daily Nexus.