PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico - The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team fell to Missouri State, 68-61, on Thursday afternoon in the fifth-place game at the Hardwood Tournament of Hope, which was held this week at the Puerto Vallarta International Conference Center.
The Gauchos were led by Sweets Underwood's second consecutive double-double, which included a career-high tying 18 points to go with 11 rebounds in just 28 minutes of work. Destini Mason also tied her career-high after scoring 13 points for the second time this young season.
With the loss, UCSB finishes with a 1-2 tournament record and now stands at 2-3 on the year. Missouri State improves to 3-2.
After Wednesday's hot offensive performance against Mississippi State in which the Gauchos shot 53.3% for the game and an impressive 60% in the second half, UCSB seemed to go cold in today's opening half. The Gauchos shot just 26.7% (8-for-30) from the field in the first 20 minutes.
The Gaucho momentum finally began to build in the closing minutes of the half as they went on a 14-9 run behind four points from both Underwood and Nicole Nesbit to trail, 27-23, at halftime.
The Lady Bears were able to spread their lead to 10 points twice in the opening minutes of the second, but UCSB was able to go on a 16-6 run that tied the game for the first time since the opening minutes at 46-46 with 8:16 to go.
The tie was short lived, however, as Missouri State went on a 13-3 run – which was fueled by a pair of crucial three-pointers from Desiree Phillips – to push its lead back out to 10 with less than five minutes to go.
The Gauchos continued to battle and Nesbit caught fire, sinking four free throws as Underwood knocked down a pair of jumpers, the second coming with 1:22 to go to make it 60-57.
Missouri State responded with a key play as Kenzie Williams collected a loose ball in front of the Lady Bears' bench and sent a pass to Christiana Shorter, who converted a layup, was fouled and completed the three-point play to push MSU back ahead by six.
The Lady Bears combined to go 4-for-6 at the free-throw line in the final minute to seal their win.
UCSB saw improved shooting from the field in the second half as they went 16-for-34 (47.1%) and shot 37.7% for the game. The Gauchos' 61 points are the most they have put up this season, but conversely, the Lady Bears' 69 are the most they have allowed.
MSU benefited from both its 44.9% (22-for-49) shooting from the field and 71.4% (20-for-28) shooting from the free throw line. It scored 30 of its points in the paint and had 11 second-chance points.
"Well, it's obvious, I am not worried about the points we scored; I am worried about the points we gave up," said head coach Carlene Mitchell. "I can't even tell you how many second chance points they had around the basket, I know it was quite a bit. So, we have to do a better job.
"It was a great battle for us though because they are a well-coached team, they are very physical, scrappy, that's what we knew coming into this game. Unfortunately, we did not step up to the challenge today."
In addition to Underwood and Mason's career-high tying performances, Nicole Nesbit also contributed 16 points and three assists. Mason also had three assists and five rebounds.
MSU had five players hit double-digit points, led by Edie's double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds). Shorter posted 16 points and six rebounds.
UCSB will return home on Tuesday, Nov. 27 to host USC in a 7 p.m. game at the Thunderdome. 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.