ANAHEIM, Calif. – Michael Bryson scored 24 points and Gabe Vincent had 20 as UC Santa Barbara romped to its ninth straight win, an 87-61 decision in a quarterfinal game at the 2016 Big West Tournament on Thursday afternoon.
The Gauchos (18-12 overall) tied the second longest winning streak in school history with three of the wins coming over the Aggies (11-19).
"Today kind of epitomized where this team is right now," said head coach Bob Williams. "There was a point earlier in the year when we just didn't maintain our focus from start-to-finish, we would have some lapses, but now these guys are really tuned in and playing at a high level. I loved that fact that we never let them make a serious run."
Vincent got things started with a three-pointer just 24 seconds into the game and for the sixth time in the last seven games UCSB didn't look back and led from start-to-finish. In fact, the Gauchos have led for 278 of the 280 minutes over the last seven games.
"That's something we take pride it," Vincent said. "It shows that we have a killer instinct now and that we realize we can't take any lead for granted. Early in the year we would take a lead and then give it up. That's something we've worked on a lot and this is the payoff."
The Gauchos pushed the lead to 21-8 on a free throw by Maxwell Kupchak with 10:42 to play in the first half. The Aggies went on a 12-5 run to cut the lead to 26-20 on a steal and dunk by Lawrence White, but fueled by a pair of threes and a short bank shot from Bryson, Santa Barbara went on a 13-0 surge to extend the edge to 39-20. The score was 42-23 at the break and Bryson had 16 of his 24 points and finished with 5-for-7 from three-point range."
"Michael shot the ball the way he is capable of," Williams said. "I told him that the first half was his and then I told Gabe that the second half belonged to him. Those guys were very good tonight."
Vincent scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half, the final three on a long three-pointer with 3:32 to play giving the Gauchos their biggest lead of the game, 79-49. He finished 3-for-6 from outside the three-point arc.
"We got good minutes from a lot of different guys," Williams said. "John (Green) and Eric were very good tonight and we got contributions from almost everyone who played."
The Gauchos, who struggled offensively in two games against UC Davis during the regular season, made 32-of-59 shots overall, 54.2%, and 11-of-23 from three-point range, 47.8%. After the Aggies shot just 32.1% in the first half, they settled in and finished at 42.6% for the game.
UCSB also won the rebounding battle, 38-27, and had just nine turnovers to go along with eight steals.
Brynton Lemar and Siler Schneider each had 16 points while Josh Fox had 14 points and six rebounds for UC Davis.
The Gauchos will play top-seeded Hawai'i on Friday evening at Honda Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and the game will be carried live on-line on ESPNU and televised delayed at 11:00 p.m. on ESPNU.