SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – After a fast start that saw it take an 11-point first half lead, UC Santa Barbara succumbed to poor shooting and a career-high 31-point effort by Ronnie Boyce as the University of San Francisco rallied for a 75-63 win on Wednesday night.
The Gauchos (0-2) jumped to a 16-5 lead over the Dons (2-0) just seven minutes into the game, but a jumper by Boyce with five seconds left sent the teams to the locker room tied at 33-33.
"We had a chance, I thought, to kind of put some distance between us and them midway through the first half, but once again we had too many lapses and they caught us and had the momentum," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "Give them credit, they found the hot hand in Boyce and rode him, but we made a lot of mistakes."
Boyce scored 20 of his 31 points in the second half.
Jalen Canty, who had career-highs of 15 points and seven rebounds, made two free throws with 12:58 left in the game to give the Gauchos a 41-38 lead, but a three-pointer by Marquill Smith tied the score, sparked a 14-0 rally and USF never looked back. The 52-41 lead ultimately ballooned to 15 and never fell below seven the rest of the way.
"Right now we are a team searching for a personality," Williams said. "We aren't playing with a great feel for each other and I'm not sure that, right now, we trust each other."
Junior Gabe Vincent scored a season-high 23 points and was the only other UCSB player in double-figures. He made four of the team's seen three-point baskets while Eric Childress and reserve Sam Walters hit one.
"We're so used to having guys at the four spot who can play on the perimeter and find their own shot," Williams said. "As things stand now, we don't have that guy. We have to play more inside-out, and it's not coming easy for a young team."
Shooting woes were a primary reason for the Gauchos' struggles on Wednesday night. They finished at 32.3% from the field overall, but made just 10-of-35 shots in the second half, 28.6%. They were even worse from beyond the three-point line as they made a mere 7-of-30, 23.3%.
The Dons, on the other hand, shot 47.5% overall for the game, including 53.8% in the second half when they put the game away. Boyce had 10 rebounds to go with his 31 points and Charles Minlend added 16 points for the winners.
Ami Lakoju, who scored a career-high 12 in the season opener against Nebraska-Omaha, scored just three points against USF, but he added a team-high and career-high eight rebounds. Christian Terrell struggled with his shooting, going 2-for-9 overall and 0-for-5 from three-point territory, but he did finish with six points, three steals and three assists.
UCSB will travel for its next three games, beginning with a Saturday, Nov. 19 game at Cal State Bakersfield that will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. The Roadrunners advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2016 and played a close 10-point game at Arizona on Tuesday night. The Gauchos will also travel to SMU (Nov. 22) and USC (Nov. 27) before their next home game.