EDINBURG, Tex. - Trailing by five with under eight minutes to play in the fourth quarter, UCSB turned the tide with a 13-3 run en route to a 66-60 win over the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders Monday evening in the first game of the Battle on the Border tournament at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
"Who we were in the fourth quarter in that stretch is obviously who I believe we are," said head coach Bonnie Henrickson.
Drew Edelman pounded the paint for 17 points and seven rebounds, as the Gauchos overcame a slow start and a spate of turnovers to make 20 of their final 37 field goal attempts.
"For Drew to respond, I got in to her a little bit at half time because of who I think she is and who we all think she is. Great response for her and her reaction," Henrickson said.
Drea Toler scored thirteen and added four assists, and Coco Miller chipped in ten points while corraling seven rebounds playing the full 40 minutes. Onome Jemerigbe finished with ten points, five rebounds, two steals, and made a pair of critical triples in the fourth quarter.
In a game where UCSB (4-7) trailed by as much as ten points in the second quarter and missed all seven of their first half three point attempts, the sizzling shooting was aided by a 42-29 rebounding advantage. Four Gauchos had five or more rebounds, with Edelman and Sarah Porter (five) equaling personal season highs, and Jemerigbe setting an individual highwater mark.
The teams started out cold from the floor, combining for just 19 points in the opening ten minutes with UCSB making four of 14 and AMCC knocking down five of 15. Nine different players scored between the teams as the teams drew even three times and traded the lead twice.
For the second quarter things started getting away from the Gauchos as the Islanders turned their 11-8 advantage entering the period in to a continually growing advantage. With the deficit growing to six points 1:02 in, UCSB was able to trim it to four points three times on buckets by Toler, Edelman, and Makala Roper, but couldn't draw closer.
A 6-0 spurt by AMCC grew the lead to 10 points with 2:42 before halftime, when Miller converted on an and-one following knocking down a jumper. After UCSB got a stop, she drove the lane and powered in her second straight basket, then Porter blocked a shot and found a streaking Toler for a layup and third field goal of the half a second before the horn to trim the Islander lead to 26-23 at halftime.
"Credit to those two for consistency, as a head coach I want to be able to look at you and know what I'm going to get from you," said Henrickson.
Down three despite turning the ball over 12 times versus just four by AMCC in the opening 20 minutes, UCSB spent much of the third quarter chipping away at a lead the Islanders were able to maintain for much of the frame. Porter knocked down the Gauchos' first three of the game at the 5:43 mark to tie the score at 35-35, but AMCC stretched it back to seven before Roper knocked down a trey.
Behind by five entering the fourth, UCSB began their run on a Jemerigbe three from the left wing. A Toler free throw, Miller steal and score, then pair of free throws from Natalia Bruening gave the Gauchos a 51-50 lead with 3:45 played. A straightaway triple by Jemerigbe put UCSB ahead for good, Miller followed up with another from distance, and Toler slashed to score and open an eight point lead with 2:32 remaining. From there it was a matter of Toler and Jermerigbe making free throws to secure the result.
"It was huge for us, because in that we're scoring and getting stops," Henrickson said.
UCSB won the battle in the paint with a 36-28 scoring advantage, and a 14-12 edge in second chance points. The Gauchos survived 20 turnovers while generating 12 by AMCC, but were only outscored 14-11 off of giveaways.
"Our job is to look at it and know that that's on us, we're turning ourselves over because of poor decisions. That has to get cleaned up on the offensive end," said Henrickson.
UCSB concludes the two-day tournament facing the North Dakota State Bison. NDSU fell to host UTRGV 81-67, but features one of the top three point shooters in the nation in junior guard Taylor Thunstedt. Tipoff is at 2:30 PM.
"We'll have out hands full, they're good, so we've got to be more disruptive," Henrickson said.