Gauchos Blast Cal Poly on Senior Night to Secure No. 2 Seed in Big West Tournament, 86-61

UCSB's seniors (seen here) went out in style on Saturday night in an 86-61 win over Cal Poly. (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
UCSB's seniors (seen here) went out in style on Saturday night in an 86-61 win over Cal Poly. (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara made senior night one to remember on Saturday at the Thunderdome with an 86-61 blowout win over Blue-Green Rival Cal Poly. In the process, the Gauchos secured the No. 2 seed in the 2018 Big West Tournament. 

UCSB (22-8 overall, 11-5 in the Big West) will once again play the Mustangs (9-21, 4-12) in the first round of the league tournament on Thursday, March 8 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., in a game that will tip-off at 8:30 p.m. 

In the regular season finale, the Mustangs took a 10-8 lead when Josh Martin made a layup at the 11:15 mark in the first half, but that's when Max Heidegger made his first of five three-pointers to ignite a 14-0 run over a span of 1:40.

A three-pointer by Leland King II, another three by Heidegger, a jump hook by King and yet another three by Heidegger gave the Gauchos a 22-10 lead with 8:54 left in the half. 

Cal Poly got back within 34-29 on a layup by Donovan Fields, but King's third three-pointer of the half gave UCSB a 37-29 lead at the break. 

The Gauchos began the second half with consecutive three-point baskets by Gabe Vincent, Marcus Jackson and Heidegger. A slam dunk by Jalen Canty completed an 11-0 surge to push the lead to 48-29 and Cal Poly never got closer than 13 the rest of the way. 

Heidegger finished with 23 points and made five three-point baskets in the game, giving him 90 on the season, a new UCSB school record. The previous mark of 87 was set by Brian Johnson in 1986-87 and was one of the oldest school records. 

King tied Heidegger for scoring honors with 23 points. He added eight rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals. He was 9-for-14 from the field overall and 3-for-4 from three-point range.

Canty, who returned to action on Thursday after a six-game suspension, made 6-of-7 field goal attempts to finish with 14 points and six rebounds. He helped a Gaucho assault that shot 55.7% from the field overall and made 11 three-point baskets for the third game in a row. 

As a team, UCSB had 27 assists and a mere five turnovers. The 27 assists rank as the fifth most in school history and the 27-5 assist to turnover ratio in program history. 

"This team really shared the ball tonight," said head coach Joe Pasternack. "We had six players with at least three assists and not one with more than one turnover. I'm not sure I've ever been part of a game with those type of numbers."

The Gauchos had just five turnovers to go with the season-high 27 assists. Vincent, playing his last game at the Thunderdome, had eight points, a game-high seven assists and three steals. He also blocked a jumper by the Mustangs' Victor Joseph that turned into a three-point play on the other end. 

"Gabe has had a great career here," Pasternack said. "This was a great way to have him go out. He is our team-leader. He doesn't have to make shots to make us better, he just has to do what he does, which is lead and be unselfish." 

Heidegger finished with 23 points and made 5-of-14 three-point attempts. His five threes gave him 90 on the year, a new UCSB school record, breaking the mark of 87 set by Brian Johnson during the 1986-87 season. Heidegger has now scored 582 points on the year, the eighth most in school history.