WBK: Jemerigbe’s game-winner falls for Gauchos

With Onome Jemerigbe scoring the go-ahead basket with five seconds left and Kali Jones delivering the game-sealing block on the other end, UCSB (1-2) overcame an 11-point Bakersfield (0-2) lead to win 61-60 in the Thunderdome on Thursday night.

“There’s value in competing. When we were down 11, we didn’t let it go to 20,” UCSB Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “We knocked down our shots, but we found a way to win because of our stops in a one-possession game where every detail matters.”

Adding to her clutch block – denying CSUB’s Alyssa Shannon of the potential game-winning shot – Jones also finished with her first career double-double with team-highs of 13 points and 16 rebounds. Defensively, the freshman put up solid numbers of three steals and a pair of blocks. Joining in on the block party was Taylor Farris who swatted away four CSUB shots and also added four rebounds.

Makala Roper co-led the team with her 13 points in her 27 minutes of play off the bench, sinking two downtown looks. Also reaching double figures in the scoring column were Coco Miller and Jasmine Ware who each netted 10.

“The other thing for us was the bench was good,” Henrickson noted “And from an energy stand point, that matters.”

In all, the Gauchos saw 28 points come from its bench, as well as eight rebounds, helping the team win the boards category 43-24.

The game was tightly contested through the first half, but the momentum was pulled the Roadrunners’ way with 10-0 run in the third quarter that put them ahead 47-36. Bakersfield ended the run with back-to-back three-pointers, as the Gauchos called a timeout after the second one went through.

The pause in play cooled off their offense, as CSUB was held to two points before the end of the period, while the Gauchos chipped away at their lead with a six points, highlighted by a triple from Miller with 16 seconds remaining.

UCSB continued on their run at the start of the fourth quarter with Miller hitting a jumper, as she was followed by Roper pouring in a right wing three-point look.

Two possessions later, Miller made a steal in the key and took the ball to the other end for an uncontested lay in, tying the game at 49-49. Along with that steal, the Gauchos produced two Roadrunner turnovers to start the final period as well as three missed jump shots.

From there, the teams traded blows and swapped the lead seven times and knotted the score twice in the final 6:42 of the game.

Bakersfield relied on Batabe Zempare down the stretch and she delivered with four unanswered points to give her team a 56-53 lead with 3:46 left. The senior – who was limited to just two points in the first half – ended with a game-high 16 points.

But just as soon as Zempare regained the Roadrunners’ lead, Jemerigbe hit her first big shot of the quarter with a three-pointer from the top of the arc.

The junior then stepped up on the defensive side of the floor with a steal and found Roper for the transition lay up, giving UCSB a 59-58 lead.

With 24 seconds left, Bakersfield used its final timeout and drew up a play, which resulted in another Zempare score, which gave them the edge with 13 seconds to play.

The Gauchos then used their final timeout and in bounded the ball to Jasmine Ware, who handed the ball off the Jemerigbe who flew down the right side of the lane and drew a foul while making a circus shot for what ended up being the game-winner.

“Sometimes as coaches you draw plays and sometimes the players have to make the plays, and Onome made the play tonight,” Henrickson said.

Jemerigbe could not complete the three-point play, but the Gauchos held on to complete the comeback victory.

UCSB will travel up to Oregon this Sunday before returning to the Thunderdome next Tuesday to face UT –Rio Grande Valley.