The 2015-16 season has officially come to an end for the UCSB women’s basketball team after Wednesday night’s 71-67 loss to UC Davis in the Quarterfinals of the Big West Conference Tournament.
Trailing 67-68, able to gain possession of the ball after the Aggies’ missed shot attempt, UCSB was unable to convert on its opportunity as junior point guard Onome Jemerigbe was called for the 30 second shot-clock violation, leading to the Aggies securing their victory at the free-throw line.
With the guidance of Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson in her first year at UCSB, the Gauchos finished this season with a 12-20 overall and 9-9 Big West record (postseason included).
Sophomore guard Makala Roper led UCSB in scoring with 20 points on 7-18 shooting overall and 3-8 shooting from long range.
UC Davis advances to the Semifinals and will face Big West Conference regular season champion UC Riverside this Friday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.
Although the Gauchos recorded a season-low nine turnovers and matched Davis in field goals made at 24, their 11 extra shot attempts did not benefit them as their 38.7 field goal percentage was surpassed by the Aggies’ 47.1 shooting percentage.
In her postseason debut, redshirt freshman forward Morgan Bertsch led the Aggies’ efficient shooting with a career-high 26 points on 11-16 shooting, tying her career best in field goals made. Her career-high in scoring is the most in a Big West Tournament game by a UC Davis player.
Bertsch’s career night started early as she scored five points in the Aggies’ 11-4 run to open the game, forcing UCSB to call a timeout. She went on to finish the quarter with nine points while shooting a perfect 4-4 from the field.
Unable to contain the Aggies’ offense, UCSB’s issues continued on the offensive end as well. Able to only score in spurts, the Gauchos concluded the period down 10-20 after a 4-16 shooting effort.
Despite its shooting woes to begin the game, Santa Barbara improved in the second quarter shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from behind the three-point line, and 100 percent at the free-throw line.
An 8-3 scoring run to begin the second period helped UCSB to trim Davis’ lead to five at 18-23. But the Aggies regained their double figure lead after a made three-pointer by sophomore forward Pele Gianotti. Finishing tied with senior forward Celia Marfone for second in scoring at 15 points apiece, Gianotti went 4-9 shooting the ball and was 2-5 from behind the perimeter.
Trailing by 12, Santa Barbara prevented Davis from extending its lead with an 8-2 run prior to entering halftime. Back-to-back three-pointers by senior guard Dioseline Lopez and Roper in the remaining 2:09 of the second quarter cut the Aggies’ lead to 34-28. Topping off the Gauchos’ run was sophomore forward Taylor Farris with a layup as UCSB entered the half trailing 30-36.
Through the first three minutes of the second half, Santa Barbara extended its scoring stretch to a 14-5 run.
Leading the Gauchos’ offensive charge in the third quarter was junior point guard Onome Jemerigbe and freshman guard Coco Miller with a combined total of 13 points on 4-5 shooting.
With its lead only at three, UC Davis responded with a 7-0 run of its own to recapture another 10-point lead at 46-36 to force a Gauchos’ timeout.
However, UCSB answered with a 13-4 run to close out the third quarter, capturing its first lead of the game at 49-48 after a made free-throw by Jemerigbe. But the Gauchos’ lead would only last for six seconds as Davis’ sophomore guard Rachel Nagel made a jumpshot to give the Aggies a 50-49 lead before starting the fourth quarter.
While it was a strong ending for UCSB in the game’s final period, shooting 46.7 percent from the field in addition to eight points by Roper, Davis’ scoring arsenal of Bertsch, Gianotti, and Marfone was nearly unguardable.
The trio scored 19 of the Aggies’ 21 points in the quarter, shot 7-10 from the field, and 2-2 from beyond the arc.
A total of seven lead changes occurred in the final 10 minutes of Wednesday’s game. With 1:50 remaining in regulation, a three-pointer by Marfone increased the Aggies’ lead to four to 68-64.
After calling a timeout, the Gauchos’ top three-pointer shooter in Roper responded with a clutch three of her own to reduce UC Davis’ lead to 68-67.
Similar to Santa Barbara putting the ball into the hands of its best player, the Aggies did the same in getting the ball to Bertsch in the paint.
In spite of the play call not succeeding and UCSB gaining possession, UC Davis’ defense managed to hold its ground forcing a turnover with the shot-clock violation to lead itself to victory.