SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Gabe Vincent scored a career-high 28 points, but Deishuan Booker made a driving lay-up at the buzzer to help Long Beach State to a thrilling 70-69 win over UC Santa Barbara on Thursday night.
Just 6.8 seconds earlier, Vincent calmly made both ends of a 1-and-1 free throw situation to give the Gauchos (21-8 overall, 10-5 in Big West) their first lead of the last 36 minutes of the game, 69-68, but Booker took the inbounds pass and went coast-to-coast, scoring over the outstretched hand of Jalen Canty, to give the 49ers (14-17, 8-7) the win.
"That is a really tough loss," Vincent said. "I'm proud of the way our guys fought back and took the lead, but in the end it's a loss and it hurts."
Vincent's two free throws capped a frenzied UCSB comeback that happened in great part because of him.
With the Gauchos trailing 64-56, the senior made a three-pointer with 3:41 to play, cutting the advantage to 64-59. After a missed three-point attempt on the other end by Bryan Alberts, Leland King II was fouled while attempting a put-back, he made both free throws and the advantage was down to 64-61 with just under three minutes to play.
Gabe Levin, who matched Booker's team-high 20 points, hit a fall-back jumper with 2:03 left, pushing the lead back to 66-61. UCSB responded with a crazy possession on its offensive end. With the ball going out of bounds on the baseline, Vincent made an acrobatic save into the near corner. Canty, corralled the ball while balancing just inside the out of bounds line and flung a pass to King who was about eight feet behind the three-point line. King calmly drilled a long three with 1:31 remaining to, cutting the lead to 66-64.
Levin responded again for Long Beach, bullying his way in for a lay-up with 1:08 on the clock. But again, it was Vincent with the answer for the Gauchos as he calmly made his sixth three-pointer of the game with 48 seconds left, pulling his team within 68-67.
The 49ers turned the ball over with 13.8 seconds to play. While the officials looked at the video replay monitor to determine how much time was left in the game, UCSB huddled and set up a play to get Vincent the ball above the top of the three-point arc. He took the pass and drove right into the lane where he was tripped by Levin, sending him to the line with 6.8 seconds to play and setting the stage for the late dramatics.
Vincent's 28-point performance was one better than his previous career-high, set in a game at Cal Poly during his sophomore season. He now has 1,410 career points, 12th in school history. He needs just 11 to pass Branduinn Fullove (1,411) and Lucius Davis (1,420) and move into the school's top-10. With his six three-point baskets, Vincent has 239 in his career, two shy of Michael Bryson's school record.
Jalen Canty, making his return after a six-game suspension, finished with 17 points and six rebounds. King made just 3-of-10 field goal attempts overall, but hit 2-of-3 from three-point range, finishing with a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Gauchos finished the game at 44.6% from the field overall and they ht 11-of-25 from three-point range, including 6-of-11 in the second half. They were outrebounded by the 49ers, 34-29.
Long Beach was outstanding offensively, making 55.6% of its field goal attempts overall. Jordan Roberts joined Levin and Booker in double-figures with 10 points. Temidayo Yussuf added eight points and a game-high 15 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end.
With the loss, UCSB's hopes to receive the No. 1 seed in next week's Big West Tournament have ended, but a win over rival Cal Poly on Saturday night would likely give them the No. 2 seed.
The Gauchos' game against the Mustangs will mark the final home appearances for seven players. In addition to Vincent, King and Canty, Alex Hart, Marcus Jackson, J.D. Slajchert and Sam Walters will suit up at the Thunderdome for the final time. The group will be recognized about 15 minutes prior to the 7:00 p.m. tip-off.