SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Amadou Sow had a career-high 22 points and nine rebounds, Devearl Ramsey added 20 points and UC Santa Barbara broke open a close game late in a 72-64 win over visiting UC Riverside on Saturday night.
The win was the fifth in a row for the Gauchos (13-3 overall, 2-0 in Big West) while the Highlanders (6-12, 0-2) dropped their second consecutive game.
Riverside took a 56-53 lead when Dragan Elkaz made one of his three three-point baskets with 9:26 to play, but Ramsey responded for UCSB with a three of his own, tying the game at 56.
Following a defensive stop and rebound by Sow, Ramsey streaked out on a fast break. He maneuvered his way through the key, made a floating, high arc layup and was fouled by Zac Watson. He made the free throw to put the Gauchos up for good at 59-56 with 8:25 to play.
Menno Dijkstra made a jump hook to pull the Highlanders within 59-58, but Santa Barbara used a 7-0 run to stretch the lead to 66-58 with 3:43 remaining. JaQuori McLaughlin scored five of the points during the 7-0 run, including an old school three-point play, and Sow added the final basket on baseline jumper.
The UCSB lead reached 10 twice down the stretch, the first time when Sow threw down a dunk on an alley-oop pass from McLaughlin with 1:44 on the clock and the final time at 72-62 on a pair of free throws by Ramsey with just under a minute to play.
"Every game in this league is going to be tough," said head coach Joe Pasternack. "Nothing comes easy. We know that and we're just happy to be 2-0 as we get ready to go on the road."
The win completed a sweep of a five-game home stand for the Gauchos, who improved to 8-0 at the Thunderdome in 2018-19 and 21-2 under Pasternack's guidance.
McLaughlin and Ar'Mond Davis each finished with 12 points and McLaughlin added a game-high five assists. Max Heidegger logged 20 minutes and attempted just three field goals, but he finished with four assists to improve his assist-to-turnover ratio to 17-3 on the season.
Ajani Kennedy scored a team-high 19 for Riverside while Dikymbe Martin chipped in 16. The Highlanders stayed in the game in part because they hit 9-of-21 three-point attempts and outrebounded the Gauchos 37-27. It was just the fourth time this season that Santa Barbara was outrebounded.
UCSB also equaled its season-low with six turnovers while forcing its opponent into 14.
UCSB will travel to UC Davis on Thursday, Jan. 17 for a 7:00 p.m. game against the Aggies. It will be the Gauchos' first Big West road game of the season.