It was a banner weekend for UCSB basketball as both the men’s and women’s teams went undefeated on their road swings.
The men’s team swept the Long Beach State-Pacific road trip for the first time in school history. The Gauchos also took home two other accolades, with junior forwards Mike Vukovich and Kayte Christensen gathering Big West Player of the Week honors.
Vukovich scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds in the win over Long Beach, but “Vuk” was just getting his weekend started. Vukovich shot a perfect 12-12 from the field Saturday against Pacific, on his way to a career high of 27 points.
“I think it’s a great honor,” Vukovich said. “It just seemed like everything I shot all weekend was going to go in.”
Along with the rest of the team, redshirting junior center Adama Ndiaye was ecstatic with the play of his housemate.
“I was really glad because he’s capable of playing like that,” Ndiaye said. “The guy has worked really hard, and he can play. All the big guys in this league now have their eyes open and will be looking for him.”
With the victories, the Gauchos extended their conference-winning streak to three games and catapulted themselves into the thick of the Big West title hunt, grabbing a tie for third place. The Gauchos were afterthoughts following their home loss to Irvine (and fourth consecutive conference defeat). Santa Barbara has regained some momentum heading into this week’s contests.
“We’re just going to take it one week at a time,” Vukovich said. “We’re going to try and put ourselves in the best position possible going into the Big West Tournament.”
The women’s team’s standout performance came from its bread and butter, leading scorer and rebounder Christensen. Santa Barbara needed all of Christensen’s 16 points and 11 rebounds to fend off Pacific, while the Gauchos twice rallied from an eight-point second-half deficit to come away with the win.
Sunday afternoon at Long Beach State, Christensen churned out another outstanding game, finishing with 21 points and tearing down 13 boards en route to the victory. With the sweep, UCSB ran its conference-winning streak to 49 games, improving to 13-6, 7-0 in the Big West on the season.