SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – It wasn't the pressing, full-court defense that was the problem in Friday night's game.
It was the regular, hard-nosed defense that resulted in the outcome.
Pepperdine, employing a full-court press and trapping defense all night, were unable to shake the pesky defense that UC Santa Barbara has made its moniker as the Gauchos defeated the Waves, 54-44 at the Thunderdome.
UCSB held Pepperdine to just 34.0% shooting from the floor on the evening, a mark that improved drastically with the Waves' second-half percentage of 44.4%. The Gauchos allowed just 13 first-half points to Pepperdine (5-5), tied for the fourth-fewest allowed in a first half in school history. Santa Barbara held Pepperdine to just 23.1% shooting in the first half and took a 23-13 lead into halftime.
Despite 20 turnovers, the Gauchos seemed to mostly managed Pepperdine's full-court press. The Waves did turn the Gauchos' 20 turnovers into 18 points, although any time Pepperdine got close, UCSB responded.
The Waves closed to five points on three separate occasions in the second half, getting to 37-32 with 8:38 remaining.
However, Nicole Nesbit's layup started a 15-5 run that was highlighted by a pair of Adrian treys. The second one, with 2:02 left, gave UCSB its largest lead of the night at 52-37.
At this rate, UCSB's women's team should petition the West Coast Conference for inclusion because all four of the Gauchos' wins have come against WCC teams.
Melissa Zornig finished with eight points and a career-high six assists while Emilie Johnson had six points, seven rebounds and five assists. The Gauchos outrebounded Pepperdine handily, 36-26, and scored 15 of its points in the paint.
Santa Barbara's next game is at New Mexico State on Monday in a trip that includes a Wednesday game at UTEP. Both can be heard live on AM 990 in Santa Barbara and streaming live worldwide by clicking here.