Gauchos Open With Exhibition Win Over Vanguard, 52-39

Sweets Underwood (By Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The defending Big West Conference Champion UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team tipped-off the 2012-13 campaign with a 52-39 exhibition win over visiting Vanguard on Monday night in the Thunderdome.

UCSB opened big, jumping out to a 15-0 lead. Vanguard's Esther Timmermans finally got the Lions on the scoreboard with 10:17 on the clock when she scored the first of her four team-leading baskets in the half.

The Gauchos featured a balanced offense in the first half with eight different players scoring. Sweets Underwood – who finished the game with a double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds) – led the way going 3-for-3 from the field with eight total rebounds. Melissa Zornig, meanwhile, dished out five of the Gauchos' eight assists in the opening 20 minutes. She finished the game with six total to go along with eight rebounds and nine points. 

Defensively, UCSB limited the Lions' shooting to just 16.1% (5-for-31) from the field in the first half. Vanguard was able to gain some momentum down the stretch as they out-scored the Gauchos, 13-10, in the final eight minutes of the half to cut the UCSB lead to 25-13 heading into the locker rooms.

Vanguard's momentum continued in the early minutes of the second as Nicole Ballestero opened the half with a seven-point run that cut the Gaucho lead to five. 

UCSB was able to regain control and climbed out to a 15-point lead with just under five minutes to go. The Lions got no closer than 11 points in the final minutes as the Gauchos cruised to the 52-39 win.

Nicole Nesbit led the Gauchos' offense in the second half, posting 11 of her team-leading 17 points in the final 20 minutes. She also handed out four assists.

For the Lions, Ballestero led the way with 14 total points, 12 of which came in the second half. Timmermans finished with a double-double after collecting 11 rebounds and scoring 12 points.

For the game, UCSB held the Lions to just 22.4% shooting (13-for-58).

"I am not sure of the sure of the score last year and it's a new season, but it's a win," head coach Carlene Mitchell said post game. "We have a lot of work to do, our upperclassman understand that. It's a quiz; Friday will be the real test. We will continue to get better and that's all I ever promise: we will get better game-by-game."

The Gauchos will officially open the 2012-13 campaign at UNLV this Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live online here. UCSB will return home on Wednesday, Nov. 14 to host New Mexico State at 7 p.m. 

In 2012-13, UC Santa Barbara will begin a two-year 35th anniversary celebration of the Thunderdome. The #thunderdome35 celebration includes commemorative 2012-13 season tickets that feature some of the greatest players to ever compete on the Thunderdome court. The players will also be remembered during Gaucho men's and women's basketball home broadcasts as well as on the Gauchos in Thirty television show and online at UCSBgauchos.com. 

Season tickets and single game tickets for women's basketball are available at the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here.

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