Underwood’s Career Night Leads Gauchos Past Loyola Marymount

Sweets Underwood (By Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE)
Sweets Underwood (By Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Senior Sweets Underwood scored a career-best 22 points to help lead UC Santa Barbara past Loyola Marymount, 76-69, on Wednesday night at Gersten Pavilion. With the win, UCSB snapped its three-game losing skid while also handing LMU its first home loss of the year and snapping its four-game home streak.

The Gauchos improve to 3-5 on the season while the Lions fall to an even 5-5.

Underwood surpassed her previous career-best by four points while also compiling a team-leading 11 rebounds to go with two steals and an assist. It marked her third double-double of the season and the 11th of her career.

She was not the only player to post career numbers during the game. Junior Nicole Nesbit led the team with a career-high eight assists to go along with her 13 points. Sophomore Madeline Campbell, meanwhile, had a career-high seven boards.

Junior Melissa Zornig tied her season-high of 13 points while senior Destini Mason was one point shy of tying her career-best as she tallied 12.

As a team, the Gauchos had their best offensive performance thus far with a season-best 76 points, a 15-point improvement upon their previous best against Missouri State.

"It was a great win; we are on the road against a very physical team," head coach Carlene Mitchell said. "It was a great team effort, it took all 11 tonight to pull this one out."

UCSB opened the game in strong fashion as it posted six unanswered points to take an early lead, which was never relinquished. Underwood posted 11 of her points in the opening nine minutes to lead an otherwise balanced offensive effort with four additional Gauchos scoring four or more points in the stanza as the team shot 51.9% (14-for-27) from the field and went 6-for-7 from the charity stripe.

A buzzer-beating three-pointer by Nesbit pushed the UCSB advantage to 36-24 at half, which tied their biggest lead heading into the locker rooms this season. They also held a 12-point advantage at half against Mississippi State on Nov. 21.

The Gauchos opened the second half with an 11-3 run, which gave them their biggest lead of the game at 55-36 with 9:45 to go.

LMU was not willing to roll over though and the Lions went on an 11-0 run, which was punctuated by a three-pointer by Alex Cowling with 6:28 on the clock to cut the Gaucho lead to 10 at 59-49.

The Lions were able to cut the Gaucho advantage to as few as five points down the stretch, but clutch free-throw shooting by Nesbit, Underwood and Zornig in the final minute kept LMU at bay as UCSB held on for the victory.

For the game, UCSB shot 48.1% from the field and an impressive 84% from the free-throw line (21-for-25). The Gauchos held the Lions to just 35.5% shooting from the field.

Cowling led LMU with a game-best 25 points and eight rebounds. Hazel Ramirez added 14 points to go with four assists and Danielle Pruitt had 12 points.  

UCSB will continue its current stretch of road games on Saturday, Dec. 15 when it travels to Washington for a 1 p.m. game. The pairing will be broadcast online and can be heard here