Aggies Fend Off Charging Gauchos in First-Round Win

Sophomore Celia Marfone finished with 15 points and six rebounds as the Aggies edged UC Santa Barbara in a Big West Conference Tournament match-up on Tuesday in Long Beach, Calif.

March 11, 2014

Box Score

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Sophomore Celia Marfone finished with a team high 15 points to lead two other teammates in double figures and fifth-seeded UC Davis withstood a last-gasp charge by UC Santa Barbara to hold off the eighth-seeded Gauchos, 58-57, on Tuesday night in a first-round Big West Conference Tournament game at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif.

With her team down one and four seconds left on the clock, Onome Jemerigbe's shot at the buzzer hit off the back iron as time expired to seal the victory for UC Davis, which got the stops they needed down the stretch to even its record at 15-15 overall.

"It was a really exciting basketball game that was fun to be a part of," Head Coach Jennifer Gross said. "I thought we came out tremendously in the first half with a lot of energy, we executed offensive, played some of the best defense that we've played all year, but we knew Santa Barbara wasn't going away. I feel so lucky to be part of this group. Tonight they stuck together when they faced some adversity and found a way to get it done."

The Aggies advance to face No. 4 UC Irvine in a quarterfinal match-up on Wednesday night at approximately 8:30 p.m. The two teams will meet for the second time in four days after the Anteaters defeated UC Davis, 68-55, at The Pavilion in the regular season finale for both teams on March 8 to clinch a first-roun bye.

UC Santa Barbara, which ended its season at 8-22 overall, shot just under 61 percent in the second half to fuel its rally, coming back from a 19-point first half deficit to almost pull off the upset. Senior Melissa Zornig finished with a game-high 21 points -- 14 of those in the second half -- while Nicole Nesbit and Destini Mason added 16 points apiece, also using huge second halves to help bring the Gauchos back.



Marfone hit 6-of-10 from the floor for the Aggies and grabbed six rebounds in 30 minutes. Sophomore Alyson Doherty finished with 14 points on 5-of-9 from the floor with seven rebounds before leaving the game with just over 11 minutes remaining in the contest due to injury, the extent of which is unknown.

Doherty and teammate Lauren Beyer finished with a game-high seven rebounds.

Junior Sydnee Fipps added 11 points and four rebounds in the win while junior Kelsey Harris finished with nine points on a trio of three-pointers, setting a new UC Davis single-season record with 82 makes from beyond the arc, breaking the previous record of 81 held by Karen Boisvert in 1991.

UC Davis led by as many as 17 points in the second half and led by 12 points with 5:36 to play following a Lauren Beyer free throw before UC Santa Barbara found its second wind. The Gauchos, who used a 13-0 run to close to within four points at 44-40 earlier in the game, found a way back as Zornig hit a jumper off a steal by Jemerigbe to jump-start an 11-0 run -- capped by a steal and a lay-up by Mason -- cutting the Aggies' advantage down to just 56-55 with 1:52 left in the half.

Momentum shifted a bit when Zornig was whistled for an offensive foul following a miss by UC Davis and the Gauchos bench was issued a technical foul, sending Molly Greubel to the line for the free throws, which she promptly sank, to put the Aggies back up three, 58-55, with 1:05 to play.

"We knew, when (Alyson) went down, she's such a big part of our team, such a big inside presence offensively and defensively, that we needed to step it up if we were going to hold off UC Santa Barbara," Greubel said. "We made just enough plays to do it for Aly and we were really fighting for her to get this win. I just wanted her to know that I had her in mind when I was shooting."

Another miss on offense gave the ball back to UC Santa Barbara as Nesbit converted on a drive inside, bringing the Gauchos back to within a single point with 33 seconds to play. UC Davis purposly ran out the shot clock on its next possession and left UCSB with four seconds to work with out of a timeout.

The Gauchos got the ball back down the court for Jemerigbe, who released with a little more than a second remaining on the clock, but her attempt was just off the mark as the Aggies survived.

"We've been focusing heavily on finishing out games," Marfone said. "With two minutes to go, I pulled the group together and said, 'this girl (Alyson) sitting on the bench has worked hard day-in and day-out, in the gym doing extra... we have to win this game for her.' Our defensive urgency, from that point on changed, and we knew we had to get stops in order to win."

In the first half, UC Davis spotted UC Santa Barbara a five-point lead as the Gauchos came out of the gates quickly, but the Aggies' offense found a spark and began to pull away. A 19-2 run -- eight of those by Doherty -- gave them their largest lead of the half at 21-9 with 8:12 to play and UC Davis finished by scoring nine of the final 12 points in the period to carry a 35-18 lead into the locker room at the break.

The Aggies outrebounded the Gauchos, 38-34, for the game -- including a 12-7 lead on the offensive glass -- and finished with 16 assists on 20 makes. UC Santa Barbara shot 43.1 percent from the field for the game to UC Davis' 35.1 percent.


Zornig, Melissa 9-15 1-1 21; Mason, Destini 8-13 0-0 16; Nesbit, Nicole 6-16 3-4 16; Watkins, Clair 1-4 0-0 2; Wright, Mi'Chael 1-1 0-0 2; Morrison, Kendra 0-1 0-0 0; Maragnes, Melissa 0-0 0-0 0; Jemerigbe, Onome 0-4 0-0 0; Ware, Jasmine 0-4 0-0 0; Brance, Kristine 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-58 4-5 57.

UC DAVIS (15-15)
Marfone, Celia 6-10 1-2 15; Doherty, Alyson 5-9 4-5 14; Fipps, Sydnee 3-16 4-4 11; Harris, Kelsey 3-9 0-0 9; Greubel, Molly 1-7 2-2 4; Beyer, Lauren 1-1 1-2 3; Salvatore, Brianna 1-2 0-0 2; McGuire, Taylor 0-0 0-0 0; Oryon, Idit 0-2 0-0 0; Johnson, Heidi 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-57 12-15 58.

UC Santa Barbara.............. 18 39 - 57
UC Davis........................... 35 23 - 58

3-point goals--UC Santa Barbara 3-10 (Zornig, Melissa 2-5; Nesbit, Nicole 1-3; Ware, Jasmine 0-1; Mason, Destini 0-1), UC Davis 6-26 (Harris, Kelsey 3-8; Marfone, Celia 2-3; Fipps, Sydnee 1-7; Salvatore, Brianna 0-1; Oryon, Idit 0-2; Johnson, Heidi 0-1; Greubel, Molly 0-4). Fouled out--UC Santa Barbara-None, UC Davis-None. Rebounds--UC Santa Barbara 34 (Mason, Destini 6), UC Davis 38 (Doherty, Alyson 7; Beyer, Lauren 7). Assists--UC Santa Barbara 10 (Jemerigbe, Onome 4), UC Davis 16 (Greubel, Molly 5). Total fouls--UC Santa Barbara 20, UC Davis 11. Technical fouls--UC Santa Barbara-TEAM, UC Davis-None.

Big West Conference Women's Basketball Tournament - First Round