SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara made 12 of its first 13 shots to take a commanding lead and then cruised to an easy 87-69 win over visiting San Diego Christian on Tuesday night.
The Gauchos (9-3) led 50-33 at the half and then extended the lead to 81-46 before the Hawks (2-6) finished the game with a 23-6 run to pull within 18 at the final buzzer.
"This type of game is a good opportunity for us to play a lot of guys," said head coach Joe Pasternack. "Obviously, it also showed us that we still have things to work on."
UCSB was led by Max Heidegger who finished with 19 points, all in the first half. Heidegger played a season-low 21 minutes, was 8-for-12 from the field overall and 3-for-5 from three-point range.
"It was important for us to come out aggressive and assert ourselves early," Heidegger said. "I think a lot of us felt good early and the result was that our shots were falling."
In addition to Heidegger's team-high 19, Ami Lakoju and Jalen Canty each added 12 while Leland King II had 11 and a team-high seven rebounds. It was the third straight good game for Lakoju, who made 5-of-6 field goal attempts and both of his free throws to tie his career-high in points.
"I'm starting to feel more like I did last year," Lakoju said. "I know that for us to be successful as the season moves on, I have to contribute, so I'm being more aggressive and that's paying off."
"For the first couple weeks of practice this year, Ami was among our five or six best players," Pasternack said. "In the last three games he has played like that. We're going to need him to give us something to be successful in the long run."
The Gauchos shot a season-best 57.6%. They made 21-of-29 shots in the first half, a sizzling 72.4%. They also hit 6-of-11 three-point attempts in the first 20 minutes, 54.5%, and finished at 47.1% for the game.
UCSB also had eight players with at least four rebounds and had a 46-22 advantage on the boards. In addition to King's seven rebounds, Canty added six while Lakoju, Maxwell Kupchak, Alex Hart and Sam Walters each had five.
The Hawks shot 39.1% overall but made 12 of their 24 three-point attempts, 50.0%. They were led by Hayden Fredrick who finished with a game-high 22 points, 12 of which came on four three-pointers. Derek Novsek chipped in 21 and Anthony Gonzalez had 13.
UCSB, which has now won eight of its last nine games, will travel to Sacramento State for its final pre-Christmas game on Saturday, Dec. 23. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. The Gauchos return home for their final game of 2017 when they host Pacific Union on Saturday, Dec. 30 at 7:00 p.m.