WBK: Jones scores 22 in Gauchos’ exhibition opener

UCSB came up short in erasing a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, as Cal State Dominguez Hills took the exhibition with a 70-67 score in the Thunderdome on Sunday.

In their first game as Gauchos, freshmen Kali Jones and Coco Miller were the team’s leading scorers with 22 points and 12 points, respectively. Jones was strong in the low post, going 11-12 from the field while also picking up a team-high eight rebounds. Miller finished with 12 points, as she went 4-5 overall and 2-3 from downtown.

UCSB will officially open the 2015-16 season with a road trip to Washington State and Idaho this weekend. The team will be back in the Thunderdome on Thursday, Nov. 19 to host CSU Bakersfield at 7 p.m. It’s UCSB’s first season under the leadership of new head coach Bonnie Henrickson.

Overall, UCSB’s offense was efficient in making 48.1 percent of its shots, as the team looked to feed the low post from the start. The Gauchos had a clear height advantage over CSDH and out-rebounded the Toros 44-26.

While Dioseline Lopez opened the game with a three-pointer, the Toros went on an early 8-0 run to take the 8-3 lead. The Gauchos were quick to respond and tied the game in scoring seven unanswered points, which included five points from Miller who drained her first triple and made two shots at the foul line.

UCSB regained the lead and closed out the first quarter on a 6-0 run to take the 22-17 lead. The team was able to maintain that five-point advantage through the majority of the second quarter until CSDH scored eight points to the Gauchos’ four in the final two minutes. In preserving the Gauchos’ lead at 37-36, Makala Roper hit a floater in the lane and Mi’Chael Wright made a jumper before going into halftime.

Jones was looked to early and often in the third quarter, as she scored the team’s first six points, all coming off assists. Two of those helpers came from Onome Jemerigbe who finished with a team-high nine assists.

The Toros, though, found their rhythm on offense and were able to jump ahead for the first time since the opening quarter. Ali Bettencourt made a pair of three-pointers during the period, as CSDH held the 56-49 advantage heading into the fourth.

As Breanne Garcia scored nine straight points to give the Toros a 65-55 lead with 6:12 remaining, the Gauchos battled back to cut the lead down to two. Jemerigbe hit a triple from the top of the arc to trigger the comeback, while Miller, Roper, and Jones all hit jumpers to make the score 67-65 at the 1:27 mark.

Jones then came up big for UCSB in netting a layup with nine seconds left to move the Gauchos within one at 68-67.

Forced to foul, Jasmine Ware sent Monay Lee on the following possession, as she went on to sink both looks. The Gauchos moved the ball up the floor quickly to get a shot off before the buzzer, but it would not fall through as the game ended 70-67.

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