For the first time this season, the UCSB men’s basketball team lost its second straight game with a 71-57 crop-dusting on the road against UC Riverside.
Highlanders’ junior guard Dikymbe Martin hit the 1,000-point milestone for his career on Thursday evening when he posted 18 points on 6-12 shooting and 2-3 from deep. Martin is the fifth Highlander in Riverside history to meet that feat.
Riverside had four players in double figures as Dominick Pickett added 14 points while he dropped 5-6 from the field in addition to seven rebounds and five assists and DJ McDonald contributed with 11 points to shoot 4-6 on field goals.
Against a Gaucho team that allowed opponents to shoot just 27 percent from beyond the arc, Riverside knocked down 11-15 from beyond the arc, good for 65 percent of the triples. Contrarily, UCSB hit just 4-22 from the perimeter as the Gauchos struggled from the field all night.
UCSB falls to 17-7 overall, 6-4 in conference following the loss and drop down to a tie for the third spot in the Big West with Hawaii. Riverside improves to 3-7 to move into a tie for seventh with Long Beach State.
As every Big West foe finds themselves in a chase to catch 9-1 UC Irvine, dropping games to lower end teams will not help the push.
Riverside opened as hot as a cast-iron skillet and went 9-10 from the field including 5-5 from around the perimeter to start out on the right foot against SB.
While the ‘Chos did everything they could to keep pace with the Highlanders, Riverside’s hot-shooting appeal was insurmountable to Santa Barbara who couldn’t efficiently contest the tries from deep.
The Gauchos successfully worked the ball into freshman big Amadou Sow who notched 12 points in the first half, and it seemed as if Pasternack had a game plan to dissect the Riverside defense.
Each towering at over 7-feet tall, Highlander freshman Callum McRae and redshirt senior Menno Dijkstra each found themselves in foul trouble early as Sow attacked the rack. UCSB looked to feed their freshmen in the paint, however Riverside managed to put pressure on Sow in the post with a double team and the big man was unable to dish it out to his open teammates around the perimeter.
Sow hooked home a smooth turnaround lay-in off the window to cut the deficit to 32-27 which put the Gauchos in striking distance, but an 8-1 tear from back-to-back DJ McDonald triples put UCR on top 40-28 with under three minutes to play in the half.
Riverside shot 65 percent in the first half and 73 percent from deep, but hardly slowed down from there.
Santa Barbara contained UCR for the first few possessions in the first half, but the Highlanders caught fire once again with a 9-0 run to balloon the gap up to 16 points at 12:15 left in the second half.
Riverside went blow for blow with every Gaucho bucket in the second and UCSB found itself in desperation trying to claw back into a double-digit deficit without being able to get stops on the defensive end.
Armond Davis splashed a trey with five minutes to play to make it a 64-49 ballgame, but that was UCSB’s only three within the second half.
The Gauchos opened up shooting 3-5 from deep but closed out by going an unfathomable 1-17 on threes to close out the game.
While UCR added 15 assists as a team, the Gauchos had only four helpers the whole night, a testament to their struggles on the offensive end of the floor.
On top of that, UCSB managed to snag 20 UCR turnovers, but couldn’t capitalize where it needed to with only 10 points that came off of takeaways.
The Gauchos face their toughest task of the season on the road against UC Irvine on Saturday evening at 9 p.m. at the Bren Center in Irvine, Calif. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.