Gaucho Season Ends in 64-49 Semifinal Loss to Old Dominion at Vegas 16

Seniors DaJuan Smith (left) and Michael Bryson finished their UCSB careers Wednesday in the Gauchos 64-49 loss to Old Dominion in the semifinal round of the Vegas 16. (Photo by Jeremy Rincon)
Seniors DaJuan Smith (left) and Michael Bryson finished their UCSB careers Wednesday in the Gauchos 64-49 loss to Old Dominion in the semifinal round of the Vegas 16. (Photo by Jeremy Rincon)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - As was the case in Monday's opening round at the Vegas 16, UC Santa Barbara battled back from a first half deficit to take an early second half lead, but in the end Old Dominion was just too much as it ended the Gauchos' season, 64-49 on Tuesday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

The Gauchos (19-14) fought back from an early nine-point deficit, tying the score at 24-24 on back-to-back three-pointers by Michael Bryson and Gabe Vincent to end the first half.

After the Monarchs' (24-13) Aaron Bacote opened the second half with a three-pointer, Vincent scored on a driving lay-up and Bryson nailed another three to give UCSB its final lead of the game, 29-27 at the 18:34 mark.

Led by Bacote, who scored eight of his 21 second half points, ODU went on a 10-0 run to reclaim a 37-29 edge with 14:16 to play. A reverse lay-up by DaJuan Smith pulled the Gauchos within six, 37-31, but the Monarchs scored the next five points, the final trio on a three-pointer from the top of the key by Trey Freeman, to pull away at 42-31. 

"I thought they came out much more aggressive in the second half," said head coach Bob Williams. "There two guards were able to get it going early and that made a big difference. They were able to get to the free throw line early in that half and that kind of opened things up for them."

On the flip side, Santa Barbara struggled on the offensive end in the second half, making just 8-of-25 field goal attempts, 32.0%.

"Give them credit," Williams said. "That was a very good defensive team and they did a great job of taking the drive away from us. They were very effective at closing down the lanes and collapsing. It was tough to find much room to operate."

Bryson, who finished with a team-high 17 points and four three-point baskets, made another three with 12:19 left to make it 42-34, but that was the last time the Gauchos got closer than nine the rest of the way. 

"Michael has had a great career," Williams said. "He has no reason to hang his head. All of our seniors have been very special parts of this program and they should be proud of everything they have accomplished."

Bryson, who was named First Team All-Big West for the second time and Second Team NABC All-District, moved past Chris Devine and into sixth-place on UCSB's all-time scoring list with 1,620 points. He is the all-time school leader in three-point baskets and his four on Tuesday night gave him 241 for his career.

Vincent, only a sophomore, finished with 13 points and made three three-point baskets to join Brian Johnson (87 in 1986-87) as the only players in school history to make at least 80 three-pointers in a single season. Vincent finished with exactly 80.

Senior, Mitch Brewe, had one of his best games of the season as he made all four of this field goal attempts, including a three-pointer, to finish with nine points and six rebounds. Another senior, DaJuan Smith, added six points.

The Gauchos struggled handling the ball and finished with 14 turnovers that led to 19 points for ODU. On the other end, the Monarchs had just five turnovers and UCSB scored just two points off them.

Bacote led all scorers with 26 points. Freeman, who entered the game averaging 22.1 points per game, had 18 to go along with 10 rebounds, but he made just 7-of-19 field goals.

In addition to Bryson, Brewe and Smith, seniors Sam Beeler and T.J. Taylor each played their final game for the Gauchos. John Green, who injured his knee in a semifinal game at the Big West Tournament, did not accompany the team to the Vegas 16.