For the second consecutive season with Head Coach Joe Pasternack at the reigns, the UCSB men’s basketball team will prepare for the Big West Tournament as the second-seed after securing the two-spot with a 92-82 win over Cal Poly on Saturday evening.
The Gauchos are 21-9 with a 10-6 Big West record and swept this season’s installments of the Blue-Green Rivalry against the Cal Poly Mustangs who finished the season in last place and missed the Big West Tournament for the first time since 2009 when it went 7-21.
Leading the charge as he’s done all season, freshman phenom Amadou Sow posted a career-high 23 points while shooting a perfect 9-9 from the field. During the win, Sow eclipsed 361 points this season to become the highest scoring freshman in UCSB history, a record that was previously held by Chris Devine from the 2006 season.
On top of that, Sow is just three buckets away from scoring the most field goals by a Gaucho freshman in a single season and is on pace to become the most efficient UCSB freshman with a 57.7 percent field goal percentage.
Although Sow’s historic night was highlighted in the win, Ar’mond Davis put an exclamation point on his final regular season collegiate basketball game with a career-high 17 rebounds to go along with 13 points.
On the other side of the ball, senior Donovan Fields ended his collegiate career with a 23-point night and became the first player in Cal Poly history with 1,000 career-points, 300 assists and 100 steals.
The Mustangs burst out the gates behind senior Kuba Niziol who quickly added eight of the first 12 points for Cal Poly, but once the lead hit 16-15, the Gauchos roared back.
SB powered back with an 18-9 run capped off by a Max Heidegger three-pointer to extend the lead to 33-25 with 8:34 to play in the first, and the Gauchos looked to tack on more as the half came to a close.
Eclectic scoring extended the Gaucho lead to 50-38 heading into the half-time break as Heidegger led the way with 11 at the end of one. Ar’mond Davis was close behind with eight points and eight rebounds after the half.
The second half was more of the same as UCSB continued to pressure the Mustangs with penetration in the post.
Sow caught fire in the second half with his muscle in the paint and with a six-point tear and 12 minutes left on the clock, UCSB notched its largest lead of the night with a 69-52 advantage over its rival Cal Poly.
The freshman’s perfect night of field goals is the ideal way to culminate arguably the best regular season a freshman has ever had wearing the Gaucho gold and blue. The Mali native is first in the Big West Conference in field goal percentage and looks to lead UCSB to its first conference title since 2011.
Santa Barbara made the leap from third seed to second seed with the win paired with a loss by Cal State Fullerton at Hawai’i on Saturday night. Fullerton swapped spots with UCSB heading into the tournament while the Gauchos are full steam ahead with one goal in mind.
The first obstacle in the Gauchos’ way? Lamine Diane and Cal State Northridge. UCSB knocked off CSUN in a thriller in its penultimate regular season game as Max Heidegger spoiled senior night for the Matadors with a last second triple to buck the bull riders and put a blemish on a 34-point, 13-rebound night from Diane, one of the top freshmen in the country.
The Big West Tournament kicks off with the two-seeded Gauchos who take on the seven-seeded Matadors at 12 p.m. on Thursday, March 14 at the Honda Center in Anaheim Calif. with what’s sure to be a firework show from a pair of explosive offenses.