UCSB Overcomes Slow Start to Beat CSUN 70-58

Coco Miller (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Coco Miller (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UCSB (10-16, 7-5) overcame a sluggish start with a fiery second quarter, leading to their 70-58 win over CSUN (6-19, 4-7) on Thursday night in the Thunderdome. With the victory, the Gauchos pulled off the regular season sweep of the Matadors.

Makala Roper took her usual role as the Gauchos' top scorer with 15, going 3-for-5 from three-point range. With Onome Jemerigbe facing foul trouble, Roper played more minutes at point guard and ended up with a career-high eight assists after her 37 minutes of play. Coco Miller also reached double figures with 13 points to go along with her team-high three steals.

Jasmine Ware came off the bench to score 10 points for the Gauchos and also dealt out four assists. Je Zhé Newton paced UCSB in the rebound category with six, while also scoring nine points.

CSUN was carried by Channon Fluker's 31-point, 19-rebound game, but the Gauchos were able to withstand the center's standout game thanks to their comeback effort in the second quarter.

After being outscored 20-6 in the opening 10 minutes, UCSB came back from the break with seven unanswered points, which triggered a 24-6 run by halftime. Ware opened the quarter with a layup and was soon followed with Miller's first three-ball of the night.

The Matadors finally reached the scoreboard with a three-pointer from Serafina Maulupe at the 6:44 mark, but Miller stepped up on the ensuing possession and knocked down a response three of her own to move the Gauchos back within seven points. 

The Gauchos continued to pull the momentum their way after that shot in scoring 10 unanswered points. Dioseline Lopez helped close out the run with first hitting a triple from the right wing and later setting up Ware for the lead changing layup at the 2:23 mark.

Perhaps the signature moment of UCSB's comeback run came on the final play of the half. Following a missed CSUN jumper, Jasmine Ware took the rebound with six seconds left, weaved her way through the half court and found Makala Roper who nailed the buzzer beating three-pointer. The shot raised the crowd's energy to its peak and gave UCSB a 30-26 halftime lead.

In the second quarter alone, the team went 9-for-18 from the field, including 4-for-7 from downtown. The team also scored 14 points off 10 CSUN turnovers.

While the offense got the fans excited, it was the defense that kept the Gauchos ahead. In opening the third quarter, UCSB did not allow a CSUN field goal until the 4:48 point. The Matadors missed nine field goal attempts and turned the ball over four times by then and picked up just six points, all from the free throw line. By the end of the quarter, the Gauchos led the game 48-38.

The three-ball helped spark the UCSB comeback, but in the fourth quarter the Gauchos would net 22 points primarily off steal-and-scores and attacking the basket. Of the team's nine field goals, seven were layups.

UCSB will be back in the Thunderdome on Saturday at 2 p.m. to host Long Beach State. It will also be Senior Day for the Gauchos, as the team will honor Dioseline Lopez, Kendra Morrison, and Jasmine Ware in a postgame ceremony. Tickets are available at the Ticketing Office in the ICA Building, over the phone at 805.893.UCSB (8272), or online.