WBK: Gauchos nearly knock off Pepperdine

MALIBU – With 14 fourth quarter points, Makala Roper sparked UCSB’s (1-6) late-game comeback effort that fell short in the 71-69 decision at Pepperdine (2-5) on Sunday afternoon.

Roper finished with a career-high 27 points and also paced the Gauchos with five assists. The guard took it upon herself to muscle her team back into contention after being down 10 points in the third quarter in leading Santa Barbara to 21 fourth-quarter points. The sophomore started the game off with a trio of three-pointers in the first half, while she went 11-15 from the line overall, the bulk of which came in the fourth quarter.

Kali Jones led UCSB’s starters with 17 points and came up one rebound shy of a double-double. Chaya Durr was the team leader in the rebounding category with 10, while also added a pair of steals and two blocks.

Though Coco Miller had a quiet scoring performance with two points, she was second on the team with seven rebounds, four assists, and a steal.

UCSB came off to a slow start and found themselves down 11-2 by the time Bonnie Henrickson used her first timeout with 5:16 left in the first. Regrouped, the Gauchos found their spark on offense with Roper connecting on her first three pointer of the game, triggering an 11-0 run. Onome Jemeirgbe also made a downtown look, while Kendra Morrison added three to the effort as well.

While Jasmine Ware finished on a lay up with 57 seconds left to move UCSB ahead 15-13, the Waves were able to tie the score in the final seconds with a lay up from Allie Green.

Down by five points in the second quarter, Durr and Jones knocked a pair of jumpers down in the final 26 seconds to put the Gauchos within one point at 33-32 entering halftime.

To open the second half, Pepperdine’s offense rolled with a 15-6 run through the first six and a half minutes to take a game-high 48-38 lead.

The Gauchos were able to cut the deficit down to six points after Roper scored the final four points of the period with a three-pointer and a free throw.

Entering the final quarter, UCSB fed Jones the ball early as she put the Gauchos within three after back-to-back lay ups.

Pepperdine managed to keep the Gauchos at bay in responding to every basket that UCSB made. However, after Allie Green knocked down a pair of free throws to make it 64-56, Roper pressed the issue for UCSB and scored five unanswered points to make it a three-point game with 1:55 left.

With the Gauchos forced to foul, the Waves jumped back ahead by five points following four free throws. But at the 00:25 mark, Durr picked up the first of two straight offensive rebounds, as UCSB used those second chances to get a pair of free throws and put itself within three at 70-67.

Pepperdine’s Kayla Blair chipped in one more free throw with 13 seconds left, leaving the Gauchos down 71-67. Undeterred, Dioseline Lopez took the ball up the floor herself and drive hard down the left side of the lane and drew the foul while making the physical shot.

She was unable to complete the three-point play, but the Gauchos were back within two with seven seconds left.

On the ensuing inbounds play, Ware fouled Erica Ogwumike who missed both of her free throws. Jones rebounded the second miss and found Lopez with only enough time for a three-quarters court shot that missed the mark.

The Gauchos will be back in the Thunderdome on Tuesday to host Santa Clara at 7 p.m.