Reserves Spark Gauchos in Victory

Jan. 8, 2011

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - It was an inspired effort from a group of reserves that led the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team to victory on Saturday afternoon in the Thunderdome.

Nicole Nesbit had all five of her steals and scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half to lead the Gauchos past Pacific, 56-47. Mekia Valentine had a double-double with 11 points and 17 rebounds while Emilie Johnson contributed 10 points and had three steals.

Nesbit had four steals and four points during a pivotal 13-0 run by the Gauchos midway through the second half, turning a 35-35 game into a Gaucho victory. UCSB has won seven of its past nine games and is 8-7 overall this season with a 2-1 mark in the Big West.

Pacific falls to 4-13, 1-3.

The Gaucho bench outscored Pacific, 23-15, as Destini Mason was also a key contributor in the second half, bringing constant energy offensively and defensively.

Valentine had her second consecutive strong rebounding performance, grabbing 17 boards after pulling down 18 during Thursday's game against UC Davis. The 6-foot-4 senior also swatted six shots, moving her into second place all-time in UCSB history with 184 blocked shots in just 45 games as a Gaucho. Valentine trails Lindsay Taylor (2000-04) by just 59 blocked shots.

"I've never played with a player this big and talented," Nesbit said of Valentine. It's refreshing to know that if you don't make a shot, she'll clean up the boards. If you get beat on defense, she'll throw it into the stands (on a blocked shot). She has your back. She was another spark in the second half, too."

Sweets Underwood had eight points and 11 rebounds while Melissa Zornig added seven points and three rebounds off the bench.

Santa Barbara, ranked 28th in the nation in field goal percentage defense, held UOP to just 28.1 percent shooting while forcing 15 turnovers. The Gauchos had 18 points off the 15 turnovers, which included 10 steals.

UCSB shot 33.9 percent from the floor, the Gauchos' lowest shooting percentage in a victory this season. Santa Barbara entered Saturday leading the conference in field goal percentage.

The Gauchos will travel to UC Irvine on Thursday for a 7 p.m. tip-off and then will play at UC Riverside on Saturday, Jan. 15 at 5 p.m. All UCSB games are broadcast live on AM 990 and streaming live online by clicking here with the pregame show starting a half-hour before tip-off.

UCSB returns home on Saturday, Jan. 22 in a 2 p.m. game with Cal State Fullerton.

Tickets to women's basketball games - and any home UCSB athletics event - can be purchased by calling (805) 893-UCSB or online by clicking here.

The Intercollegiate Athletics Ticket Office has two parking spaces adjacent to the building and is now open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., making it easier than ever for fans to purchase tickets. The two parking spots, designated specifically for the Ticket Office, are also available during weekday hours, which are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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