Under a full autumn moon, the UCSB men’s basketball team dominated a flustered and winded Korabel (Ukraine) team 94-57 behind a well-balanced offensive attack at the Thunderdome on Thursday night.
After Korabel cut the lead 28-25 with 3:50 to go in the first half, the Gauchos knuckled down to go on an 11-3 tangent to end the half and any hope of Korabel mounting a comeback.
Senior center Adama Ndiaye nailed a layup to begin the run and extend UCSB’s lead 30-25. After junior forward Mark Hull’s layup, sophomore guard Branduinn Fullove stroked one of his five three-pointers of the night. Sophomore guard Nick Jones gave UCSB a 39-28 edge at the break and its largest lead of the night at that point, by grabbing an offensive rebound and putting in a short jumper.
Sophomore point guard Jacoby Atako dished off two of his seven assists of the night to Ndiaye and Hull during the final 3:38 of the half. Atako, who did a marvelous job propelling the offense in his 20 minutes of action had zero turnovers and four steals.
The sharing of the ball with one or two extra passes and patience on offense during the run was indicative of the entire second half.
“I’m really pleased with the energy level in the second half,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams said. “I’m pleased with our ability of sharing the ball, having 25 assists.”
Santa Barbara pounced on Korabel, who almost seemed to lose interest in hampering the Gauchos’ charge. UCSB steadily built its lead by going on a 23-4 run in the first seven minutes for a 63-32 lead. Fullove continued his three-point barrage, Ndiaye threw down a thunderous dunk and a short jumper, and sophomore forward Brian Whitehead chipped in a jumper and free throws. Almost every made field goal had an assist tagged on – the Gauchos dished 17 assists in the second half, five more than Korabel had the entire game.
But that was just the beginning as the Gauchos built their lead all the way to 39 points with just under a minute to go, running away with a reasonably competitive game that quickly turned into a mere tune-up.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the evening was the return of Ndiaye to the hardwood after almost a year off it. Ndiaye, who was warmly greeted by the T-dome crowd, finished with 13 points and 10 boards, four offensive, as well as a blocked shot and a steal in 29 minutes.
“It was great being out there,” Ndiaye said. “It’s been almost a year since I’ve competed. It was great to be out there and to get back the feel of the game [and] to play with my teammates.
“I was anxious to get there and excited. I didn’t want to go full force … [I wanted to] settle down a little bit and let things come to me. My teammates did a great job of helping me fit in.”
Fullove had the hot hand of the night, drilling eight out of 10 shots, five out of six treys, for a game-high 22 points.
“You can see the work I did on my shot; visualization work was what [I’ve been working on],” Fullove said. “I’ve been paying attention to the fundamentals of my shot.”
Redshirt freshmen guards Chris Newell and Chrismen Oliver participated in their first games as Gauchos on Thursday night. Newell scored his first two points on an assist by Oliver with 6:33 to go for a 75-41 lead. Newell had four points and three rebounds, and Oliver later scored on a knifing short jumper for his first bucket. Oliver had three assists in only seven minutes of play, and both athletes competed with great composure.