SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Deishuan Booker scored 17 of his game-high 26 points in the second half to help visiting Long Beach State hold off UC Santa Barbara 69-64 on Thursday night.
The Gauchos (19-9 overall, 8-6 Big West) trailed the 49ers (12-18, 6-8) by as many as 11 in the first half and 34-25 at halftime, but Devearl Ramsey scored the first eight points of the second half to make it 34-33 and the game remained tight the rest of the way.
UCSB actually took the lead on several occasions in the second half, the last time at 55-54 on a pair of Max Heidegger free throws with 6:14 remaining, but Long Beach responded with with an 8-0 run to reclaim a 62-55 lead with 4:08 to play. Jordan Roberts began the rally with an old-school three-point play, Booker then drained a long three-pointer from above the key and Mason Riggins completed the surge with a slam dunk.
The Gauchos chipped away at the lead and when Heidegger made a three-pointer at the 1:14 mark it was down to 64-62. But Roberts rebounded a missed three-pointer by K.J. Byers on the other end and was fouled. He made the first free throw and missed the second, but Riggins came down with the offensive board and got the ball to Booker, who was fouled. The 91-percent free throw shooter, who has set a Big West record for made free throws in a season, hit both to stretch the lead to 67-62 with 29 seconds left.
Santa Barbara missed a three-point attempt and Booker was fouled after collecting the rebound. He made two more from the charity stripe to extend his league record to 222 makes on the year.
"We just couldn't get a rebound when we needed it in the final couple of minutes," head coach Joe Pasternack said. "Amadou (Sow) was great, but he didn't have much help on those possessions."
Sow, UCSB's freshman forward, finished scored 13 points and posted career-highs of 15 rebounds and three blocked shots. Heidegger had a team-high 17 points while Ramsey finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
Roberts and Bryan Alberts joined Booker in double-figures for Long Beach with 16 and 15 points respectively. Alberts made 5-of-10 three-point attempts for all of his points. Riggins led the visitors with nine rebounds.
The Gauchos shot just 41.5% overall but did make 46.7% of their shots in the second half as they rallied back. They were also 9-of-24 overall from outside the three-point arc, but a respectable 6-for-13 in the second half. The 49ers made 45.6% of their shots overall, including 7-for-19 from three-point territory. The teams each had 32 rebounds including 10 on the offensive end and 22 on the defensive end.
"Coming out stronger is something we have to get better at," Ramsey said of UCSB's sluggish first half. "We've done that a few times and I think its cost us almost every time."
UCSB will travel for its final two regular season games and first up will be Cal State Northridge on Thursday, Mar. 7 at 7:00 p.m. The game between the Gauchos and CSUN will be aired on ESPN3.