UC Santa Barbara’s nine-point lead in the second half was not enough to down San Diego State, as the Aztecs edged the Gauchos 71-67 in the Thunderdome.
UCSB’s record falls to 3-3, while SDSU picked up its first win of the year and is now 1-4.
Nicole Nesbit led the Gauchos with a career-high 22 points, as she shot a proficient 5-8 from three-point range. The senior guard also picked up two assists and two steals in the game.
The Gauchos took a six-point lead before the half time break when Mason hit a shot from downtown with one second left to make the score 39-33.
Earlier in the half, Santa Barbara had to overcome an eight-point deficit after SDSU went on a 10-2 run with 10 minutes remaining.
Down 26-18, Onome Jemerigbe drove hard through the lane and picked up a foul. She went 1-2 on her trip to the free throw line, and went on to be the first of 11 unanswered points for UCSB.
Zornig and Nesbit followed the freshman with back-to-back three-pointers to put the Gauchos within one at 26-25.
Nesbit capped off the run with a midrange jumper to give her team the 27-26 advantage with 4:43 left in the first half.
UCSB eventually pulled out ahead once Nesbit triggered a 10-2 Gaucho run to close out the first when she drained a shot from long range at the 2:46 mark.
In opening the second half, Nesbit kept rolling on offense as she hit a three-pointer to put UCSB up 42-33, which yielded a timeout call from SDSU Head Coach Stacie Terry.
From there, the Aztecs adjusted their offense and placed 6-4 Cierra Warren as the centerpiece. The senior finished with 21 points, scoring 15 in the second half alone. The center shot 9-10 from the field as UCSB could not answer her size down low.
UCSB was able to hold on to their initial second half lead until Warren put in a lay up with 12:20 left, making the score 51-50 SDSU.
The Gauchos would momentarily get the lead back when Zornig answered Warren’s score with a jumper. However, the Aztec offense did not slow down and eventually garnered a seven-point lead with 1:34 remaining.
In a late comeback effort, Zornig sunk her second three-point shot of the game at the 1:10 mark to put her team within four.
Following up the big play on offense, Nesbit stole the ensuing inbounds pass in the backcourt and finished with the hard lay up between two SDSU defenders, moving the Gauchos closer at 69-67.
UCSB had the chance to tie the game with nine seconds left, but Nesbit missed her shot from the left wing. The Aztecs rebounded and were fouled, which sent Ahjalee Harvey to the free throw line to end the game.
The Gauchos will look to get back in the win column on Tuesday night when they visit Pepperdine. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will be featured online at ucsbgauchos.com with the pregame show starting at 6:30 p.m.