Santa Barbara sophomore forward Mark Hull’s career-high 21 points were not enough Saturday night, as UCSB dropped a 67-53 contest to BYU at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. The Gauchos slipped to 0-3 on the year with the loss, while the Cougars improved to 2-0.
BYU opened the contest with two free throws from guard Terrell Lyday, who dumped in 21 points on the night. The Cougars used a 12-2 run midway through the first half to open a 25-12 lead. Santa Barbara slowly chipped away at the deficit, cutting the lead to 31-24 at the end of the first half.
Hull began the second half by knocking down a 15-foot jumper to pull UCSB within six. However, BYU scurried off eight-straight points to extend its lead to 39-26 with 15:33 remaining in the game. Gaucho Head Coach Bob Williams then called a pivotal, momentum-breaking timeout.
Junior forward Mike Vukovich responded with a nice shot down low, and Hull buried a shot from beyond the arc 14 seconds later to slice the Cougar lead to 39-31 with just under 14 minutes to go. BYU guard Travis Hansen quieted the rally with a trey that put his squad back up by 11.
Reminiscent of his performance in Tuesday’s overtime loss to USF, sophomore guard B.J. Ward took it upon himself to pull UCSB back into the game. At the 11:00 mark, Ward blew past his defender and drove the lane for a nice finger-roll layup. Ward struck again 30 seconds later by slashing his way to the bucket, while Vukovich added a short jumper on Santa Barbara’s next possession. Ward shook his defender once more and connected on an easy layup, and the score stood at 42-39. This would be as close as UCSB would get for the rest of the night.
The Gauchos looked to further cut the lead on their following possession, but freshman guard Jacoby Atako had the ball knocked away, which led to a momentum-building layup for BYU. The Cougars stormed off a 13-4 run that resulted in a 55-43 lead with 4:49 remaining. UCSB was unable to spark another comeback.
“Defensively we were really solid,” BYU Head Coach Steve Cleveland said on the BYU.edu website. “When you can hold a team to under 30 percent shooting from the field, and you keep their three-point shooting to under 21 percent, you know you are doing something right.”
Santa Barbara shot a mere 29 percent on the night, whereas BYU connected on 43 percent of its shot attempts. UCSB shot well from the charity stripe, going 20 for 25, yet committed 22 turnovers.
“Twenty-two turnovers and seven assists pretty much sums up the game,” Williams said on the BYU.edu website. “Their defense, and our lack of handling it, really did us in tonight.”
The already short-handed Gauchos suffered another injury on their laundry list of ailments that have hindered the team’s success. Redshirt freshman guard Nick Jones hurt his ankle midway through the second half, and it was unknown at press time whether he will miss any time on the court.
Santa Barbara will return to action Wednesday when they travel to Westwood to battle UCLA at 7:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Net 2.