The shorthanded UCSB men’s basketball team was wiped out by tidal Waves on Sunday afternoon, falling 64-53 to Pepperdine in Malibu.
The win marked Pepperdine’s 11th consecutive home victory since last year. Santa Barbara fell to 0-1 after going 2-0 in exhibition play.
UCSB was forced to play without 6’9″ senior starter Adama Ndiaye, who suffered a fracture in his left ring finger at practice Thursday. Ndiaye is expected to miss 4-6 weeks after a pin was inserted into his finger.
“It hurts a lot to lose Adama,” sophomore guard B.J. Ward said. “He is a senior and one of the most versatile players on the team; he’s crucial for us down low.”
Freshman guard Branduinn Fullove led Santa Barbara with 13 points before badly spraining his ankle late in the game; it is unknown when Fullove will recover from his injury. Wave forward Kelvin Gibbs recorded game-high totals of 18 points and 12 rebounds, while teammate Brandon Armstrong added 12.
The contest began in Santa Barbara’s favor after sophomore forward Mark Hull swept in for a lay-up off the opening tip-off and senior guard LaRon Bryant connected on a deep three-pointer to give the Gauchos a 5-1 lead three minutes into the game. Pepperdine missed its first eight shot attempts, and then both teams’ shot went in the tank. Midway through the first half, UCSB was shooting 27 percent, and the Waves were connecting on only 25 percent of their field goals.
Pepperdine stormed back with a 10-0 run with help from a smothering pressure defense that held UCSB scoreless for more than seven minutes. Senior forward Juliano Jordani broke the drought with a strong move down low to cut the lead to 11-7 at the nine-minute mark. The teams traded off buckets for the remainder of the half and Santa Barbara went into the locker room trailing 22-18.
Santa Barbara ended up shooting 29 percent in the first half and only 34 percent for the game.
The Gauchos were forced to shoot from outside because the intense Pepperdine defense allowed very little penetration in the key. Pepperdine forced 24 turnovers, including 16 in the first half.
“We made a lot more mistakes than we should have today,” Bryant said. “We need to do a better job of taking care of the ball this season.
Bryant opened the second half with another long trey to pull the Gauchos within one, but that would be as close as UCSB would get for the remainder of the afternoon. Pepperdine began to pick apart Santa Barbara’s zone defense, while heating up from the field en route to a 16-2 scurry that opened its lead to 38-23. Pepperdine’s lead rose to 47-28 with less than ten minutes to play.
Somehow the Gauchos found a second wind late in the game, running off a 19-6 spurt behind a resurgent defense and evenly spread offensive attack. UCSB hit a number of pivotal shots from the charity stripe, going 16 of 18 for the night to pull within six with 2:30 left. But the Gauchos could not convert on crucial, open shots, and the comeback attempt washed away as they were forced to foul the Waves in the final moments of the game.
“We learned a lot about ourselves today,” Ward claimed. “We have to keep playing hard every week, and we will improve … I think we will bounce back Tuesday.”
The Gauchos return to the Thunderdome on Tuesday at 7 p.m. to play the University of San Francisco.