SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara used career performances from John Green and Mitch Brewe to overcome the absence of Alan Williams and cruise an 83-75 win over visiting UC Riverside on Thursday night.
Williams, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, is out for at least two weeks with a shoulder injury. Green responded with career-highs of 21 points and nine rebounds, while Brewe added a career-best 18 points and a season-high seven rebounds.
The Gauchos (9-9 overall, 2-2 in Big West) outscored UCR (9-10, 2-3) 7-0 to open the second half, breaking a 40-40 tie, and they never looked back.
"I saw this as an opportunity to step-up and help my teammates," Brewe said. "I'll do whatever the coaches ask me to do. It's not easy to replace Al's points and rebounds, but together we were able to do a good job of that."
Although the Highlanders finished the game 11-for-26 from three-point range, they made 8-of-13 in the first half.
"To stay with them in first half when they were shooting lights-out was important for us," said head coach Bob Williams. "I thought it gave our guys confidence and it carried over into the second half. We played with great energy tonight and with Al out, we really have to."
Brewe had 12 of his 18 points in the first half and was matched by Michael Bryson, who scored 12 of his 16 in the first 20 minutes.
"Our juniors really played well tonight," Coach Williams said of Green, Brewe and Bryson. "This was their opportunity to shine and they did."
Despite missing Alan Williams, Santa Barbara outscored UCR in the paint, 32-18.
"It was our plan to be more aggressive getting the ball inside," Coach Williams said. "That doesn't always mean getting it into the post, sometimes it means taking it off the dribble and taking it to the rim or kicking it back out to a shooter. We did that well tonight."
The Gauchos made 8-of-13 shots from three-point range, and one game after making just 25.0% of their shots in a loss at Long Beach State, they hit 30-of-58 in the win over Riverside, 51.7%.
"Tonight we didn't settle," Coach Williams said. "We made the extra pass and took a lot of good shots. I was very pleased with that."
UCSB stretched the lead to 70-55 on a lay-up by Brewe with 7:31 to play. The Highlanders crept back to within eight on three occasions down the stretch but could get no closer.
In addition to the outstanding performances by Green, Brewe and Bryson, the Gauchos received great efforts from point guards Zalmico Harmon and Eric Childress. Harmon made 2-of-3 three-point attempts, finishing with 10 points, eight assists and no turnovers. Childress had a season-high eight points and a career-high eight rebounds while also adding four assists and two steals.
The Highlanders were led by Jaylen Bland who had 21 points and Steven Thornton added 19, making 4-of-6 three-point attempts. Austin Quick, the brother of former Gaucho Nick Quick, had 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
UCSB remains at home to host Cal State Fullerton on Saturday in a 4:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome. Tickets are available from the Ticket Office in the ICA Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here.