The UCSB men’s basketball team is riding high after defeating Brigham Young University on Wednesday evening in the Thunderdome.
Though the Gauchos’ 3-1 start is their best since the 1994-95 season and the best in Head Coach Bob Williams’ career at Santa Barbara, UCSB is still eager to continue its recent burst of success.
On Saturday night, the Gauchos will host St. Mary’s in a non-conference matchup at 7 p.m. The Gaels defeated UCSB 71-63 last season for one of only two victories on the season and the only one against a Division I opponent. Santa Barbara wants nothing more than to prove that the loss was an aberration.
“We’re definitely not going to take them lightly like we did last year,” junior point guard B.J. Ward said.
Santa Barbara owns a 21-11 lifetime record against St. Mary’s and will focus getting rid of the bad taste left from last season’s loss.
“Our guys remember that we shouldn’t have lost to them,” UCSB Assistant Coach Marty Wilson said. “We’re reminding them that we were the only Division I team they beat. It doesn’t sit well with our staff or the players … the main thing is to get [our players] to play at the same level we played against USC, against BYU, against [San Francisco].”
Several Gaels have been playing well for St. Mary’s in the early going. Sophomore Paul Marigney is averaging 15.3 points a game for St. Mary’s (1-3) and is shooting at a very high 56 percent clip. Marigney leads the team with 6.3 rebounds as a 6’3″ guard.
Sophomore forward Chase Poole was the key player for the Gaels in their only win of the season, a 78-64 triumph over Sacramento State on Wednesday night at McKeon Pavilion. Poole collected career highs with 22 points and 17 boards in the win to help St. Mary’s halt a 22-game losing streak that dated back to Dec. 22, 2000.
Poole, a 6’8″ Austin, Texas native, shot 9-13 from the field and 4-5 from the charity stripe, and the Gaels shot 50 percent in the win. The Gaels led by as many as 23 points while prevailing over the Hornets.
“Chase Poole’s been playing pretty well [for St. Mary’s],” Wilson said. “He’s a force for them and it will be a great matchup for Adama [Ndiaye]. I remember [Poole] from his high school days. Adama’s got 10-15 pounds on him and he’s got three years of experience on him.”
Ndiaye, a fifth year senior center for the Gauchos, has collected double figures in rebounds in three of four contests this season. In the BYU victory, Ndiaye accumulated 11 rebounds and blocked three shots down the stretch.
The Gaels also have a plethora of skilled wing players, including Teohn Conner who scored 13 points on 6-10 shooting in the Sacramento State game, Ryan Nelson, and Marigney, among others.
When Ward was matched up alongside fellow point guard, sophomore Jacoby Atako, the outstanding perimeter defense limited BYU’s flexibility and effectiveness as the game wore on Wednesday.
“Our ball pressure [was proficient],” Atako said. “I consider me and B.J. the quickest players out there, and we can put pressure on their guards. We disrupted their offense because of our ball pressure.”