Gauchos Roll to Victory Over Pacific Union in Non-Conference Finale, 81-49

Christian Terrell (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Christian Terrell (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – In its final non-conference tune-up before Big West play opens, UC Santa Barbara used all 14 players on the roster to easily run past visiting Pacific Union 81-49 on Saturday night. 

The Gauchos (11-3) completed their best non-conference season in a decade at the expense of the NAIA Pioneers (2-7).

UCSB scored the first four points of the game, took an early 13-2 lead and never looked back. By halftime, the lead was at 36-18 and it ballooned to 81-46 with 0:23 to play in the game.

Max Heidegger led the Gauchos with 16 points, and both Leland King II (11 points, 13 rebounds) and Jalen Canty (10 points and 10 rebounds) had double-doubles, but the game proved to be an opportunity to give the team's reserves plenty of playing time as no starter played more than 17 minutes.

UCSB had 13 different players get into the scoring column. Ironically, of the 14 players that entered the game only one didn't score: the program's leading active scorer, Gabe Vincent who left after three minutes and never returned. 

Off the bench, Ami Lakoju and Alex Hart each scored eight points, while J.D. Slajchert added six. Maxwell Kupchak, Sam Walters and Brandon Davis each added five. Christian Terrell scored four points, and also contributed eight rebounds, four assists and one steal.

"We had some really hard practices in the week after Christmas," said head coach Joe Pasternack. "We emphasized defense and staying in your stance, and I think we saw that tonight. This was also an opportunity to give some guys playing time so that if they're needed, they have a feel for game speed."

As a team, UCSB shot 44.0% overall, but just 26.1% from three-point range. Pacific Union was limited to 27.9% overall and 19.0% from three-point range. Santa Barbara also dominated the glass, 58-31. Jayson Marquez paced the Pioneers with 13 points.

The Gauchos open Big West Conference play on Thursday, Jan. 4 when they avel to rival Cal Poly. The game against the Mustangs will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. UCSB will return home on Saturday, Jan. 6 when it hosts UC Riverside in a game that will be featured on ESPNU. Tip-off at the Thunderdome for the game against the Highlanders is scheduled for 9:00 p.m.