Run ‘n’ Gun might have worked for former Big West members UNLV in the early 1990s, but that strategy didn’t work for the UCSB men’s basketball team last night.
The Gauchos gave up 17 offensive rebounds in a demoralizing 77-74 defeat to Long Beach State at the Pyramid on Thursday in the highest scoring first half Santa Barbara has participated in all season.
Super sixth man Cody Pearson knotted the game at 69-69 with just over two minutes remaining. Senior guard Ron Johnson ripped down an offensive rebound for a put-back and a 71-69 LBSU lead at 2:05.
Sophomore swingmen Branduinn Fullove and Mark Hull then missed three free throws in the final two minutes of the game that opened the door for LBSU. Fullove’s bricks were particularly painful considering two would have tied the game. With Johnson at the line with 15 seconds, Pearson was inserted with Long Beach up 74-71. After Johnson missed the second, Pearson whittled his way through the lane for an offensive board, the 17th and crushing offensive board.
Johnson essentially sealed Santa Barbara’s doom with another trip to the line. Johnson sunk both for a 76-71 lead with 10 seconds left. Though Gaucho junior forward Hull then hit a rushed 27-footer with four seconds, Niner forward Tony Darden made a free throw. With three seconds to run the length of the court, sophomore point guard Jacoby Atako missed a three at the buzzer.
A slight melee broke out in front of the Gaucho bench after the game, with Beach point guard Michael Darrett and Atako exchanging unfriendly pleasantries.
UCSB held a 12-point lead after Fullove buried a three-pointer for his 17th point of the first half. At 44-32, the 49ers began to climb back into the game. Darden immediately buried two three-point bombs.
Though senior center Adama Ndiaye ferociously dunked the ball for his first bucket of the night and there was a 48-40 UCSB lead at halftime, the up-tempo style the Gauchos were cruising with would doom them in the end.
Santa Barbara shot a scintillating 63 percent in the opening frame, then walked out of the sauna and into the Arctic Ocean to shoot a baffling 36.4 percent in the second half.
UCSB (15-9, 9-6 in the Big West) scored only two points in the first five minutes of the second half.
LBSU reeled off a 14-0 run midway in the second 20 minutes. The Gauchos countered with a 13-1 run of their own, capped by Fullove’s only points in the second half, a three for a 69-65 lead.
Long Beach (11-16, 7-9) roared back behind the revitalized Pyramid crowd to retake the lead late in the game and deny UCSB its 10th win in the Big West.