Despite career-high point totals from backcourt members junior Onome Jemerigbe and senior Jasmine Ware, the UCSB women’s basketball team could not repeat an upset performance in ending UC Riverside’s undefeated conference record as it endured a 92-81 loss.
Jemerigbe finished with 16 points and followed up a career-high of 10 assists with eight on Saturday while Ware recorded 23 points off the bench, respectively, helping UCSB score its highest point total in a conference game this season. With an opportunity to move into first-place of the Big West standings, Santa Barbara was defeated 92-81 in its second meeting against the Highlanders on Saturday.
The Gauchos’ three-game winning streak was ended in the loss, landing them with a record of 7-13 overall, 4-2 in the conference. UC Riverside improved to 5-0 in Big West play, its best start since joining the conference. It also extended its winning streak to six consecutive games and now owns a 12-7 overall record.
It was a great shooting night for both teams from the field as UCSB tallied a 53.6 field goal percentage, nearly matching UCR’s 54.8 percentage. Yet, the Highlanders dominated the paint by outrebounding UCSB 36-19, a season-low for UCSB, and outscored the Gauchos in the paint 44-30.
Leading the Highlanders’ interior offense was Rejane Verin. The redshirt junior forward justified her third selection as Big West Player of the Week nearly finishing with a triple-double. Verin registered a game-high 25 points, 16 rebounds and led UCR in assists with seven.
Four of the Highlanders’ starters finished with double-figures in scoring. In addition to Verin and Curry, senior guards Brittany Crain and Annelise Ito added to UCR nearly matching its season-high of 93 points. Despite just six points in the first half, Crain ended with 23 points while Ito notched 17 points, respectively.
Riverside’s control of the post became even more advantageous in getting to the free-throw line in which it finished 23-25. UCSB was efficient at the free-throw line as well, but had less attempts making 13-16.
UCR finished with 10 free-throw attempts in the first quarter, but it was the early production of 2014 Big West Freshman of the Year Michelle Curry that helped the Highlanders gain a double-figure lead. She scored nine of her 15 total points in the opening quarter, making half of the Highlanders’ free-throw attempts as Riverside took an 18-8 lead.
Ware helped UCSB rally from its 10-point deficit, scoring the Gauchos’ last two field goals from beyond the arc to trim UCR’s lead to 26-21 to end the quarter.
Neither team could score a basket to open the second quarter as the two registered just one field goal apiece through nearly four minutes of play. Yet, the scoring outburst of Jemerigbe and freshman guard Coco Miller helped UCSB stay within a close margin of the Highlanders’ lead.
The two accounted for eight of Santa Barbara’s last nine field goals, combining for 16 of the Gauchos’ total of 20 points in the quarter on 7-10 shooting from the field. Miller concluded Saturday’s contest with 18 points while shooting 7-15, 4-10 from behind the three-point line to go along with two steals. Still, UCSB entered halftime down 41-47.
Riverside increased its lead to 10 in the early minutes of the second half. But a 9-2 UCSB run brought the Gauchos within three at 50-53, forcing a UCR timeout. Santa Barbara came as close as a one-point deficit at 56-57, but could not prevent UCR’s 12-2 run to close out the third quarter with a 69-58 lead.
After a made free-throw by junior forward Inara Nyingifa, UCR earned its largest lead of 17 points at 78-61. A total of 10 points from Ware helped UCSB in its comeback attempts as a three-pointer by Miller with 4:08 remaining in regulation trimmed the Gauchos’ deficit to seven at 73-80.
However, the scoring duo of Crain and Verin helped UCR secure its victory as the two combined for 18 points and three steals helping lead the Highlanders to their 92-81 victory.
UCSB will continue its road stint with a game at UC Davis on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 3 p.m.