WBK: Gauchos come close to beating Riverside

With four players scoring in double figures, UCSB’s efforts came up just short in a 71-65 loss to UC Riverside on Thursday night in the Thunderdome.

“We did everything you could do to get a win, but it came down to the details,” UCSB Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said. “It’s great to see four players reach double digits, but we came out flat to start the second half and simply gave up too many fouls.”

The Gauchos are now 0-11 in conference play, while their overall record slides to 0-24. With the win, the Highlanders ended a two-game losing streak and improve to 16-10 on the season and 7-5 in the Big West.

Jasmine Ware and Clair Watkins paced the Gauchos with 16 points each, while following them were Onome Jemerigbe and Kristine Brance with 15 and 10, respectively. As a team, UCSB drained 50 percent of its shots, which was reminiscent of its 54.5 shooting performance at Riverside in the teams’ first meeting of the season.

Taylor Farris led the Gauchos with a career-high eight rebounds and a pair of steals. Behind her was Ware with seven boards, complimenting her personal-best five assists. Overall, UCSB combined for 19 assists, which is second-highest mark of the season only trailing the 23 it recorded in the previous Riverside game.

The Gauchos opened the game with Ware knocking down her first jumper just 10 seconds into the action. Highlander Michelle Curry knocked down a two from the top of the key for the quick response, but Watkins dropped in a 12-foot jumper on the ensuing possession. For the first five minutes of the game, Ware and Watkins scored 10 of UCSB’s 13 points in garnering an early four-point lead.

“It was great to see those shots fall early,” Watkins said. “I feed off what my teammates do, so seeing Jasmine make her shots to start the game, I started to play with that same confidence.”

UCSB stretched out its lead to as many as seven points, including at the 8:57 mark when it was on top 24-17 following a layup from Melissa Maragnes. Those were two of the sophomore’s four points of the game, but she really made her impact in grabbing a career-high five rebounds in 19 minutes of play off the bench.

However, Riverside’s offense came to life with a 14-3 run to take a 33-28 lead with less than three minutes to play in the half. The Gauchos went on to score three unanswered points to close out the first, as they pulled themselves within two at the halftime break.

The duo of Ware and Watkins continued to be UCSB’s main scoring force in the second half, as the two hit back-to-back jumpers to open the half and reclaiming the lead for the Gauchos at 35-33.

UCSB managed to keep UCR at bay until Brittany Crain forced her way to a layup to put her team ahead 42-41 with 12:58 to play. From there, the Highlanders never gave up their lead.

Crain finished with a game-high 24 points after 40 minutes of play.

The Gauchos will be back in action this Saturday when it plays Cal State Fullerton at 2 p.m. The game will also be Senior Day for UCSB, as seniors Kristine Brance and Clair Watkins will be recognized in a special pregame ceremony.