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Injuries have begun to take their toll on the UCSB men’s basketball team as the Gauchos dropped their second consecutive game in a 78-73 loss to Hawaii Saturday at the Thunderdome.
Without its star player in sophomore center Alan Williams, UCSB lost its second straight game and fell to 7-12 overall and 3-5 in the Big West. Hawaii, meanwhile, improves to 11-9 on the season with a 5-4 mark in conference play after outrebounding the Gauchos by 15.
“I think they’re more physical than us. We’re not as physical as we need to be,” Head Coach Bob Williams said. “Most games we play in, it has not been as big a problem because we have one very physical human being (Alan Williams) down in the low paint area to kind of mop things up.”
Junior forward Christian Standhardinger led the Rainbow Warriors with a career-high 31 point, 16 rebound performance. Even more impressive, Standhardinger only had four points at the break, exploding for 27 in the second half.
“He’s a really good player,” Coach Williams said. “He’s what this league doesn’t have a lot of, a 6’8” wing-type player that’s got a body on him. In this league he can play anywhere from the two to the five. He hurts you in a lot of ways.”
Clearly overmatched down low due to the absence of Williams, UCSB opted to try its luck from long range, attempting 28 three-pointers, compared to 10 for Hawaii. The Gauchos converted nine of those opportunities, but its top two three-point shooters in freshman forward Taran Brown and junior guard Kyle Boswell were a combined 1-15 from behind the arc.
“Taran didn’t do much for his percentage tonight,” Coach Williams said. “It’s a bad shooting night out of those two. You have to give people some credit, they’re doing some good things on Bos.”
Brown led UCSB with 15 points and six rebounds, but shot 7-23 on the night including a dismal 1-12 from behind the arc. Boswell was second on the team with 12 points, but was 0-3 on three-pointers. Sophomore guard T.J. Taylor notched 11 points and four assists on the night, while senior guard Nate Garth had eight points and eight assists.
Out with injury for much of the season, junior forward Keegan Hornbuckle provided UCSB with solid play with eight points, two assists and two steals in 21 minutes of play.
“The guy that I actually thought had a pretty decent game again was Keegan Hornbuckle in terms of doing what he is capable of doing and having to play more minutes than he is capable of right now,” Coach Williams said.
Fouls plagued UCSB for much of the night as Hawaii shot 39 free throws. Santa Barbara was outrebounded 45-30 on the night and allowed 20 second chance points to the Rainbow Warriors.
“Not having [Big Al] isn’t really an excuse for not boxing someone out,” Boswell said. “We just let them climb our backs and get second chance points all night long. You literally can’t beat a team that’s that big and not box them out.”
Hawaii snapped a two-game losing streak with the victory and won its first Big West road victory since moving to the conference this season.
UCSB next faces Long Beach State on the road on Wednesday.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of January 28th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.