Depleted Gauchos Lead Wire-to-Wire, Defeat Pacific 66-53
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Despite adding its leading scorer to an already lengthy injured list in the first half, UC Santa Barbara led from start to finish in a 66-53 win over visiting Pacific on Saturday night, ending a five-game losing streak.
Already down to nine players because of injuries, the Gauchos (8-15 overall, 4-7 in the Big West) lost Alan Williams, their leading scorer and rebounder, to sprained right ankle midway through the first half. He finished the game with 10 points and seven rebounds in just eight minutes.
UCSB jumped out to a 12-0 lead and never looked back. The Tigers (13-10 overall, 7-4 in the Big West) were ice cold, shooting just 30.4% overall and 20.0% from three-point range and never got closer than four points (18-14) the rest of the way. They made just one of their 14 three-point attempts in the second half.
"I thought the team really rallied after Al went down in the first half," said Gaucho head coach Bob Williams. "That was a pretty gutty effort and I'm proud of this group. The fact that we outrebounded them 40-29 and played without Al for 32 minutes says a lot."
Brown led the team with eight rebounds while Bryson had six.
Taylor got Santa Barbara off to its fast start with his scoring early. After Williams made a fall-away baseline jumper to open the game, Taylor made back-to-back three-pointers to push the lead to 8-0 and eventually it got to 12-0. Bryson helped end the half on a positive note when he made a three in the waning seconds to give UCSB a 37-29 lead at the break.
Pacific could never get closer than seven the rest of the way and when Bryson made a free throw with 11:24 left, the lead was at 10 and it never dipped into single-digits the rest of the way.
"T.J. making those early threes really opened some things up for us inside," said Williams. "The shots also gave us a lot of energy and we played like that the whole game."
Taylor also added eight assists and two steals to his stat line while Bryson had two steals and a blocked shot. Brown blocked a pair of shots. Guard Kyle Boswell made all three of his three-point attempts and had nine points and three steals.
As a team, the Gauchos were coming off of one of their worst offensive performances of the year, but on Saturday they were solid, making 22-of-44 shots overall (50.0%) and 10-of-20 form beyond the three-point arc.
Pacific was led by Ross Rivera who had 15 points. The Tigers' leading scorer, Lorenzo McCloud, was limited to 10 points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field.
UCSB returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 16 when it travels to Cal Poly for a Blue-Green Rivalry games. The Gauchos will stay on the road and play at UC Riverside on Wednesday, Feb. 20 before returning home to host Sacramento State in a BracketBuster game on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for that and all Gaucho games can be purchased from the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here.