UCSB Takes Down Long Beach State 59-50, Earns First Round Bye in Big West Tournament

The Gauchos overcame a four point halftime deficit to beat Long Beach State 59-50 and clinched a first round bye in next week's Big West Tournament.

Angelei Aguirre led Santa Barbara with 13 points, matching a career-high.

Two other Gauchos joined Aguirre with double-digit scoring figures, Sweets Underwood and Nicole Nesbit were both on target for 12 points.

"We believe that anyone on our team can have a great scoring night," Aguirre said in talking about Underwood and Nesbit. "Tonight was one of those nights where we had many people step up."

Underwood recorded her 12th double-double of the season off a 12 point, 14 rebound performance. Nesbit also tied a career-high with eight assists.

The first half featured a close battle between the two teams, but the 49ers took a six point lead with 1:49 left in the half off a Lauren Spargo three-pointer. Sweets Underwood responded with a layup in the paint to lower Long Beach's lead to 26-22. 

49er head coach Jody Wynn called a timeout with 22 seconds left, trying to make sure her team would have the final shot of the first. The play was designed to get the ball to Devin Hudson, who was shooting perfect 4-4 from the field at that point, but freshman Jasmine Ware took that opportunity away by stealing away an Ella Clark pass.

With Long Beach State up 26-22 to start the second half, the Gauchos went off on 5-1 run after the break. Devin Hudson retied the game at 29 off a layup and the Gauchos had to look to their bench to take back the lead.

Melisa Zornig was subbed into the game with 14:29 left in the game and served as the Gauchos' much needed offensive spark. She took a sharp pass from Nicole Nesbit and knocked down the open jumper to put her team up by two, but she was not done yet. 

After Kirsten Tilleman picked up a steal on the next 49ers possession, Zornig received a pass camping in the left corner and buried the long range shot to give UCSB a five point lead. She only scored two points in the first half, but her five straight points gave the Gauchos the 34-29 lead. It proved to be an advantage that the Gauchos wouldn't slip away.

Zornig finished the game with nine points, accounting for every point scored off UCSB's bench. 

With her second start in a row, Destini Mason finished with nine points and five rebounds. Four of those points were unanswered and helped the Gauchos keep the 49ers at bay late in the game.

With 5:50 to play, the 49ers dwindled the Gaucho lead to four. Mason took a pass from Nesbit and drove through the paint to finish with the layup. Feeling the momentum from the layup, Mason quickly went to work on the defensive end of the floor. 

Long Beach State's Lauren Spargo missed a shot from downtown and Mason picked up the rebound and immediately took it the other way. Without a set defense in front of her, she evaded a 49er and took the ball across the baseline to finish with the reverse layup putting the Gauchos up 48-40. 

After the loss, the 49ers are still seeking their first win at the Thunderdome since 2010. 

Even though they have already clinched the fourth seed in the conference's tournament, the Gauchos still have to unfinished business in the regular season as they will host UC Irvine this Saturday at 2pm.

Saturday's game will be broadcast live on KZSB 1290 AM, the Santa Barbara News-Press radio station, and online at UCSBgauchos.com. A live video stream is available at BigWest.tv. 

Tickets are available by visiting the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling (805) 893-UCSB or by clicking here