UC Santa Barbara went ice cold in the final 15 minutes of the second half and blew a 10-point lead, losing to visiting UC Irvine, 65-59 on Saturday night. The loss ended UCSB's three-game winning streak.
The Gauchos (17-6 overall, 6-4 in the Big West) took a commanding 47-37 lead on a three-pointer by Alex Harris with 15:13 to play, but then were outscored 13-0 over the next 5:47 to fall behind, 50-47. The UCI (10-13 overall, 5-5 in the Big West) rally was capped by guard Marcus McIntosh who scored on a driving lay-up along the baseline, was fouled by Chris Devine, and made the free throw.
Devine tied the score at 50-50 on the next possession, scoring on a lay-up and then making the free throw after a foul by Darren Fells. After UCI's Brett Lauer missed a three-pointer, Devine took a feed from Justin Joyner and scored on another lay-up, giving the Gauchos their final lead of the game, 52-50. The Anteaters used a 12-2 outburst to seize their biggest lead of the game, 62-54 with 1:57 to play. Patrick Sanders, who finished with a game-high 18 points, scored six during the 12-2 run.
UCSB tried in vain to get back into the game, but the closest they could get was three points on a three-pointer by James Powell with 1:06 left.
After leading 47-37, the Gauchos scored just 12 points in the final 15:13 of the game, missing 21 of their final 25 shots.
McIntosh joined Sanders in double-figures for the Anteaters with 16 points. Darren Fells had nine points and 12 rebounds.
Santa Barbara was led by Joyner who had a career-high 16 points, including four three-point baskets, and seven assists. Devine finished with 15 before fouling out, and Harris had 14, despite making just 3-of-12 shots.
For the game, UCI hit 47.7% from the field while the Gauchos hit just 40.4%, including 27.3% in the final 20 minutes.
UCSB returns to action on Thursday, Feb. 14, when it hosts Cal Poly in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome.