SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Led by a career-best performance by junior Melissa Zornig, UC Santa Barbara was able to get its first Big West Conference home victory and snap its five-game skid in the Thunderdome on Saturday afternoon as the Gauchos downed visiting UC Davis, 58-43.
The victory improves the Gauchos' record to 6-10 overall and to an even 2-2 in Big West games. The Aggies fall to 5-9 overall and 0-3 in league play.
Zornig poured in a career-high 24 points and surpassed her season-high of 13 points in the first half alone. She made 8-of-15 from the field, 5-of-9 shots from the three-point range, and hit 3-of-4 from the charity stripe. Her 24 points are the most scored by a Gaucho this season.
"My teammates attacked, got into openings and kicked it out," Zornig said. "It felt good to finally hit some shots since I have been struggling a bit this season."
Zornig also had a season-best five assists – tying Nicole Nesbit for the team lead – and tied her season-best with four rebounds.
On an unseasonably cold afternoon in Santa Barbara, UC Davis could not catch fire offensively during the first half as they made just 3-of-23 attempts from the field to end the stanza shooting 13%. The Aggies' 11 points in the first rank as the fourth fewest allowed in a half in UCSB lore.
For their part, the Gauchos got on the board first and never trailed. By the 6:52 mark, they had built their lead to double-digits at 17-6 and then, with 4:20 on the clock, Zornig spearheaded a 7-3 run for UCSB that gave it a 26-11 advantage at half.
The Gauchos were able to push their lead to a game-high 19 points within the first 2:30 minutes of the second, but the Aggies strung together an 11-2 run to cut their deficit to 35-25 with 12:40 on the clock. UCSB quickly put a stop to the Davis run with a 12-3 run of its own that pushed its lead back to 19 points with 8:09 remaining. The Aggies responded with a 9-0 run to put them back within 10 points, but that's as close as they would come. UCSB made 11-of-14 free throws during the final 5:24 of the game to seal its victory at 58-43.
"We were very disciplined on the defensive end and we were playing a potent team in Davis," head coach Carlene Mitchell said. "They all shoot three pointers and they are straight-line drivers, so to hold them to 11 – even though they got on track and scored 32 in the second half – it was nice to see that and to see us recover after two tough losses."
For the game, UCSB shot 45.5% (20-for-44) and its 20 field goals mark the team's most since the Dec. 5 game at Loyola Marymount. The Gauchos' 17 assists were their second most this season. UCSB was slightly off its average clip of 75.9% from the free-throw line as they shot 65% (13-of-20) for the game.
The Aggies finished the game shooting 29.1% after an improved second half in which they made 13-of-31 attempts from the field. Alyson Doherty and Heidi Johnson, who each had nine points, led the team. The former had a team-best six boards.
UCSB will return to action next Saturday, Jan. 19 when they
travel to face Central Coast foe Cal Poly at 4 p.m. The Game will
be broadcast at UCSBgauchos.com. A live video stream can be found
Tickets for UCSB home 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.