The UCSB men’s basketball team improved to 2-0 on its young season this weekend with a decisive 69-49 win over the University of San Francisco on Saturday.

The Gauchos jumped out to an early nine-point lead, but USF, led by guard Shamell Stallworth, battled back to tie the game at 21 all. The Dons then capped what ended up as a 13-0 spurt, with a layup from forward Darrell Tucker to take a 26-21 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the first period.

But Santa Barbara responded with a run of its own, this one a 15-0 burst. Junior forward Mark Hull got the Gauchos going with a three-pointer, which was followed by a pair of free throws from sophomore guard Branduinn Fullove. Sophomore guard Nick Jones added to the action with back-to-back treys to put UCSB ahead by a 32-26 margin. Fullove and Hull each added a jumper to complete the spurt and give UCSB a 36-26 advantage. USF added a single free throw before halftime to make the score 36-27 in favor of the Gauchos.

UCSB opened the second half with a tight defense, limiting the Dons to only six points over the first eight minutes of play. Santa Barbara turned its stifling pressure into quick points on the offensive end, as Fullove would get hot in the second half, finishing with a game-high 22 points en route to the easy victory. Hull, sophomore guard Jacoby Atako and Jones all finished in double-figures for the Gauchos. Atako also finished with a team-high five assists. With senior forwards Adama Ndiaye and Mike Vukovich in foul trouble for most of the game, sophomore forward Casey Cook filled in admirably, scoring five points and grabbing a team-high eight boards.

The Gauchos will put their perfect mark on the line tonight when they face #23 USC at the sports arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30.

-Matt Heitner