Gauchos Rally Back for Sixth Straight Win, 69-58 at UC Davis

Ar'Mond Davis (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Ar'Mond Davis (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

DAVIS, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara rallied back from a 10-0 deficit to take a 12-point halftime lead and then repeatedly held off UC Davis in the second half to win its sixth straight game, 69-58 on Thursday night.

The Gauchos (14-3 overall, 3-0 in Big West) missed six of their first seven field goal attempts as they fell behind 10-0, but then closed the half by making 15 of their final 25, including seven of their 12 three-point attempts, to claim a 43-31 halftime lead. 

The Aggies (4-13, 0-3) opened the second half on a 14-5 run to shrink their deficit to 48-45 with 16:25 left in the game, but they could get no closer.

Ar'Mond Davis had a game-high 23 points and added eight rebounds, including four on the offensive end. The graduate transfer from Alabama made 5-of-7 three-point attempts, including three at key times in the second half, to help UCSB fend off Davis and improve to 3-0 in league play for the first time since 2001-02. 

"Ar'Mond was huge for us tonight," said head coach Joe Pasternack. "After we were outrebounded by Riverside, I challenged him and the team to go hard on the glass and they responded. That was a big factor tonight."

The Gauchos, who were outrebounded by 10 in their win over the Highlanders last Saturday, outrebounded Davis, 37-21. They had 12 offensive rebounds and allowed the Aggies just two of their own. 

UCSB had an answer every time Davis closed the gap in the second half. After Joe Mooney made a pair of free throws to pull his team within 48-45, Max Heidegger hit a free throw and then Ami Lakoju scored on a powerful layup with 14:20 left to make it 51-45.

Following a Garrison Goode steal and breakaway slam dunk with 11:54 on the clock, UCSB's Davis took a pass from Jay Nagle and drilled a long three-pointer from the left corner, pushing the advantage to 54-47. Moments later, Matt Neufeld scored on a short jump hook and the lead was back down to five, 54-49, but again it was Davis with another three to make it 57-49.

A free throw line jumper by Siler Schneider was matched by a Devearl Ramsey steal and bucket on the other end and the lead remained eight, 59-51, with 9:07 to play. The game was scoreless over the next couple of minutes before a Mooney basket broke the spell and carved the gap to 59-53, but Jarriesse Blackmon drove baseline and extended the lead 61-53.

Goode made 1-of-2 free throws to pull his team within 61-54, but Davis closed the door with his final three-pointer to give the Gauchos a double-digit lead, 64-54. A three by A.J. John with 45 seconds remaining was UCD's final gasp, cutting the lead to 64-57, but UCSB made 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to squelch any thoughts of an Aggie comeback.

Ramsey and Heidegger each added nine points while JaQuori McLaughlin and Nagle had eight apiece for Santa Barbara. Playing near his hometown of Folsom, Calif., and in front of many of his former Will C. Wood High School teammates, Nagle scored all eight of his points as the Gauchos rallied back in the first half. Amadou Sow had six points, seven rebounds and a key block of a T.J. Shorts floater late in the game. 

In addition to easily winning the rebound battle, UCSB equaled its second highest three-point basket total on the season by making 11-of-24, 45.8%. Davis led the way with his five, but Nagle and McLaughlin each had a pair while Ramsey and Heidegger each chipped in two.

Mooney paced UCD with 14 points while Schneider and Shorts, the 2018 Big West Player of the Year, each added 11. Shorts also had four steals.

The Gauchos will remain on the road for their next two games, traveling to Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 24 and Long Beach State on Jan. 26. Both road games will tip-off at 7:00 p.m.

UCSB will return home on Thursday, Jan. 31 when it hosts UC Irvine in a game that will begin at 8:00 p.m. The game against the Anteaters was originally scheduled to tip at 7:00 p.m. but was moved to 8:00 p.m. to accommodate an ESPNU broadcast.