SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Just three days before Christmas, UC Santa Barbara was in the giving spirit, passing off for a season-high 24 assists in an 84-65 win over visiting Idaho State on Saturday afternoon.
After trailing by as many as six points in the first half the Gauchos (9-3) exploded over the final 14 minutes to roll past the Bengals (4-5)
UCSB took a 51-48 when Robinson Idehen took a perfect pass from Ar'Mond Davis and slammed it home with 15:08 left in the game, but ISU's Chier Maker was fouled while shooting a three-pointer and he made all three free throws to tie the score at 51 at the 14:09 mark.
The Gauchos scored the next five baskets, all of which were assisted on, to take a 61-51 lead.
The 10-0 run began when Jarriesse Blackmon found Devearl Ramsey for a layup. Amadou Sow was next when he took a pass from Ramsey and scored on a power layup. Next, it was Max Heidegger scoring off a pass from Sékou Touré. Touré then scored on a short jumper after taking a feed from JaQuori McLaughlin, and the run was complete when Blackmon scored off a pass from Ramsey.
"This is a very unselfish team and that showed today," Ramsey said. "We really look for each other and it's contagious. There are a lot of weapons there and when some are clicking, others will."
The Bengals would narrow the lead to 61-55 on a layup by Kevin Jones with 9:33 left, but UCSB put together another 12-2 run over the next 4:06 to take a decisive 73-57 advantage with 5:27 remaining in the game. The lead expanded to 20 in the final seconds before the game 19-point final margin.
Santa Barbara had one of its best offensive games of the season as it made 58.6% of its shots, and it was particularly good in the second half, going 19-of-29, 65.5%. In addition, after allowing ISU to shooting 54.5% in the first half, the Gauchos clamped down in the second half, limiting their opponent to 10-of-23, 43.5%.
"That second half might be the best basketball we've played all year," said head coach Joe Pasternack. "I thought we were much more focused defensively and that led to some easy baskets."
Davis led UCSB with 19 points, including a trio of three-point baskets. Ramsey finished with 18 points on 7-of-9 from the field and 2-for-2 from three-point range. He also added five assists. Amadou Sow, Blackmon and Touré each added 10 points. The latter two were each 5-of-6 from the field. Heidegger, who had just six points, added a career-high eight assists in the win.
Maker led the Bengals with 12 points while Brandon Boyd and Balint Mocsan each added 11.
In addition to the 24 assists, the Gauchos outrebounded ISU 32-20 and committed only nine turnovers. Defensively, they forced 16 turnovers.
UCSB, which has won three of its last four games, remains unbeaten at home and will return to the Thunderdome on Saturday, Dec. 29 to host the University of San Francisco, which will enter the game with a 12-1 record after defeating Stanford on Saturday.