Watkins Records Double Double, Zornig Hits 1000 in 64-54 Victory at Fullerton

FULLERTON, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara opened the game with a 9-0 run and never looked back en route to a 64-54 victory over Cal State Fullerton in Titan Gym.

UCSB improves its record to 3-9 in league play and is now 8-17 overall. Fullerton, after downing Cal Poly 73-72 on Thursday night, falls to 6-6 in the Big West and holds a 10-15 mark on the year. 

Three Gauchos added double figures in the scoring column, as Nicole Nesbit led the way with 19, while Melissa Zornig (18), and Clair Watkins (10) followed her.

Watkins's point total added to her first double double performance in a UCSB uniform, as the junior transfer pulled down a game-high 15 boards in helping the Gauchos outrebound the Titans 39-33.

Zornig became the 25th Gaucho to join the 1000-point club after her performance. She is the second player to reach the milestone this season for UCSB as Nesbit hit the mark versus Utah State on Dec. 19. 

Santa Barbara stormed out of the gate with nine unanswered points through the first four minutes of game action. Onome Jemerigbe knocked down her first shot of the contest from the left elbow, while Zornig added a three-point play to the run. 

The Titans wouldn't get on the board until Alex Thomas drained a three-pointer from the top of the arc. 

Fullerton trailed throughout the game, but threatened UCSB's lead when Thomas cut the deficit down to one at the 3:17 mark. 

The Gauchos weren't rattled by the pressure of protecting their 20-19 lead, though, as they answered back promptly with six consecutive buckets.

Zornig book-ended the run with pull-up jumpers from the wing, while Nesbit took a steal at half court and finished with an open layup. 

UCSB were well in control through the entire half, as it held the Titans to just 7-of-26 from the field and 2-of-11 from downtown. On the offensive end, the Gauchos shot an efficient 48.1 percent in the first primarily from short-range jumpers.

Nesbit came up big with the final possession of the half after knocking down a long two from the right wing to give her team the 28-22 advantage going into the locker room.

The Gauchos continued with its stifling defense starting the second by holding the Titans to just three points through the first eight minutes.

Santa Barbara forced four turnovers in that span and put up 10 points to give itself the commanding 38-25 lead.

Refusing to ease up, the Gauchos continued to pile on the points as they went up by as many 19 points with 3:37 remaining.

UCSB garnered that 58-39 lead thanks to a 20-8 run that officially put Fullerton out of contention entering the final minutes.

However, the Titans would make it interesting with its backcourt pressure on UCSB. Fullerton forced the Gauchos into four turnovers and a foul with their press defense, capitalizing on its efforts with eight points to get within nine at 58-49.

Now with 1:02 left to play, Kristine Brance took the inbound ball and lobbed it to a wide open Nesbit on the opposite end of the floor who dished it to Destini Mason for the transition layup.

The Gauchos drew a pair of fouls in the waning 41 seconds and closed the game by nabbing four points at the charity stripe from Nesbit and Brance.

UCSB will return to game action next week at the Thunderdome to take on UC Irvine (Feb. 27) and UC Davis (Mar. 1). Tickets are available at the Ticketing Office located in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building, over the phone at 805.893.UCSB (8272), or online here.