March 8, 2014

Mason and Watkins Put Up Double Doubles, UCSB Falls to Cal Poly 79-68 on Senior Day

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Behind a pair of double-double performances, UC Santa Barbara kept the game close until the final minutes when Cal Poly clinched the win with a 79-68 final score. 

On Senior Day, Destini Mason recorded her second double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 boards, while Nicole Nesbit and Melisa Zornig finished with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Clair Watkins finished with team-highs of 16 points and 12 rebounds.

UCSB finishes the regular season 3-13 in conference play and 8-21 overall. With the victory, the Mustangs clinched the second seed in next week's Big West Tournament. The Gauchos' playoff berth will be determined tonight when UC Riverside hosts Long Beach State. If the Highlanders win, they take the eighth seed, however a loss would give the Gauchos the last spot in the tournament.

The Gauchos were in a tight battle through the majority of the game, as the first half saw 10 tied scores and eight lead changes.

The two teams were within one possession of the other until the 4:14 mark in the first half when the Mustangs took a five-point advantage. The Gauchos answered back quickly when Zornig hit a short jumper from the left side of the key, triggering an 8-4 UCSB run. Mason capped off the run by hitting a layup after Zornig found her on a pass in transition. Zornig finished the afternoon with a game-high six assists along.

With 30 seconds left in the first and Cal Poly on top 36-35, the Gauchos held the Mustangs to a lofty last second shot to remain just one point shy of the lead.

The Mustangs opened the second half with a steal and a layup from Jonae Ervin to go up by three, but Nesbit immediately answered back with a three-pointer from the left wing to knot the score at 38. 

From there, Cal Poly kept UCSB at bay for 13 minutes into the second half until the Gauchos pulled off a 6-2 run. 

After Ariana Elegado drained one of her six triples to break the 52-52 tie, the Gauchos went to the inside with Watkins who finished on a turnaround jumper. Later in the run, Kendra Morrison fed the ball along the baseline to Zornig who drained the running shot. 

UCSB officially took the lead when Ervin turned the ball over into the hands of Nesbit. The senior flew up the left side of the floor and fired a pass to Mason who finished on the layup, giving the Gauchos the 58-57 edge. 

The lead was short lived, though, as Molly Schlemer put in a layup on the following possession. The Gauchos limited the 6-5 center's production below her season average at 13 points.

Elegado hit back-to-back downtown shots to put UCSB behind by six and gave Cal Poly their biggest lead of the game. The guard finished with a game-high 32 points. 

In the final minute, the Gauchos were forced to foul and the Mustangs took advantage at the line, going six-for-six at the charity stripe to close out the contest.