Santa Clara, Calif. - The Santa Clara women's basketball team got off to a fast start and led the entire first half, but couldn't put UC Santa Barbara away and dropped a 67-62 decision to the Gauchos on Saturday night at the Leavey Center.
The Broncos are now 1-3 on the season while the Gauchos improve to 2-2. Santa Clara travels to Northridge on Nov. 29 and will play the host Matadors in the first game of the Northridge Tournament.
Santa Clara shot 45.7% (21 of 46) from the field and 23.1% (3 of 13) from three-point range. The Broncos totaled 39 rebounds, 13 assists, 21 turnovers, four blocks and three steals. Jo Paine led the Broncos with 14 points and nine rebounds while Marie Bertholdt added 11 points. Ruta Zurauskyte scored seven points with three assists, three rebounds and two blocks.
The Gauchos shot 37.1% (23 of 62) from the field and 22.2% (2 of 9) from three-point range. They had 39 rebounds, six assists, nine turnovers, one block and five steals. Nicole Nesbitt had a game-high 19 points to lead three Gauchos in double figures. Melissa Zornig scored 18 and Destini Mason had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Broncos struck first when Montana Walters drained a three eight seconds in and Vanessa Leo netted a layup for a 5-0 lead at 17:37. UCSB cut the gap to 5-4 but Santa Clara used an 11-2 run over the next 3:49 to take its largest lead of the contest at 16-6.
UCSB chipped away and closed within one point six times, the last on a Mason jumper that made the score 34-33 at halftime
The Gauchos took their first lead of the game at 35-34 on a pair of free throws by Nesbitt at 18:49 of the second half. The game remained close for the rest of the half and was tied at 48-48 with just under 10 minutes left until UCSB went on a 7-0 run.
A Leo layup and a bucket and free throw from Nici Gilday closed the gap to 55-53. Another Gilday layup with 2:06 left tied the game at 61-61.
Following a pair of Nesbitt free throws that staked the Gauchos to a 65-62 lead with 13.9 seconds left, a game-tying three-point field goal attempt by Walters hit off the back iron and caromed out.
Nesbitt closed out the scoring with another pair of free throws for the deciding points with 0.9 seconds left.