The UCSB men’s basketball team lost its second straight game, falling 40-37 against Idaho on Saturday night at Moscow.
The Gauchos, who have lost two games in a row for the first time all season, held the Vandals to 12 points in the opening half and could not find a way to salvage a win during the longest road swing of the season.
Idaho stifled Santa Barbara with a 2-3 zone used for the whole game. The pressure, playing a game on the road, or lack of focus may have all contributed to UCSB’s dismal game. The Vandals forced the Gauchos to hoist 13 threes, draining only two. UCSB shot only 29 percent and limited the Vandals to a paltry 22 percent.
Yet Idaho had enough ammunition to crawl by the Gauchos.
Vandal junior forward David Howell, who finished with 13 points and six boards, connected on only 1-6 shots. Howell’s 11-12 performance from the charity stripe unraveled any hope of securing victory.
UCSB, at 12-8 and 6-5 in the Big West, have virtually no hope of winning the regular season title. The Gauchos dropped into a fifth-place tie with Cal Poly while the Vandals improved to 7-13 and 4-7.
With the win, Idaho avenged a loss at the Thunderdome on Jan. 3 when Santa Barbara deflated Idaho 76-53.
Idaho made 17-23 free throws for 74 percent while the Gauchos made only 13-19 for 68 percent. And two streaks at the stripe were also broken in crucial moments. Sophomore guard Branduinn Fullove, in the midst of the worst slump of his young career, missed a chance to tie the game at 36 with 2:23 remaining in the game.
After making the first and continuing his streak to 26 shots, the guard missed his second attempt. Senior center Adama Ndiaye, after sinking 21 free throws in a row, missed two in a row the next trip down.
Howell sunk two free throws with under a minute, and UCSB sophomore guard Nick Jones missed a desperation three-pointer to end the demoralizing trip for the Gauchos.
No Gaucho scored in the double digits, and the Vandals – with no starters over 6’6″ – out-rebounded UCSB 35-29.