The UCSB men’s basketball team gave rival Cal Poly no love on Valentine’s Day, issuing the Mustangs a 73-57 loss Saturday night at the Thunderdome.
The Gauchos (13-8 overall, 7-5 in the Big West) snapped a two-game skid by trampling the Mustangs in an effective transition game. In perhaps his final meeting with Cal Poly (8-12, 3-9), senior guard Branduinn Fullove torched his adversaries for a game-high 17 points in 26 minutes. In their last meeting back on Jan. 17, Fullove, the 2002-03 Big West Player of the Year, fouled Mustang freshman forward John Manley hard as the reserve went for a lay-up. Fullove would later be officially reprimanded by the league office for the foul and his comments following the game in San Luis Obispo. On Saturday night, Manley scored just two points and registered four fouls in 18 minutes, and no outbreaks occurred.
“We were eager to get back on the right track and stay mentally focused for 40 minutes,” Fullove said after the game. “We knew that the win would take care of itself if we played that way.”
Sophomore forward Cameron Goettsche led all players with 11 boards, chipping in 12 points to complete a double-double. Goettsche has emerged as UCSB’s most consistent player, attacking the glass on defense and expanding his offensive game with sweet perimeter play. Goettsche guarded Cal Poly senior forward Varnie Dennis and limited the All-Big West player to an erratic rhythm and minimized offensive touches.
“I always try to play to my strengths,” Goettsche said. “Varnie wasn’t that physical tonight. I’ve played against much more physical players before.”
Sophomore swingman Josh Davis started the contest and produced one of his best games in a Gaucho uniform. Scoring nine points, clobbering six rebounds, dishing four assists and snagging three steals in 25 minutes with no turnovers, Davis appeared confident in the motion offense. Surprisingly not known for his offense, Davis absolutely shut down Mustang senior swingman Shane Schilling, who committed five turnovers and was just four of 21 shooting from the field.
“I thought Josh was outstanding,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams said. “We like Josh [covering] Shane because he defends really well.”
Having been plagued by inconsistency, Santa Barbara shot 50 percent overall and scored 35 first-half and 38 second-half points. After being down by five with 10 minutes to play in the first period, the Gauchos elevated their game and raced out on a 17-1 run. After a Goettsche dunk off one of sophomore guard Joe See’s seven sizzling assists, UCSB emphatically stormed into the locker room by flaunting a 35-24 lead.
“We had 11 turnovers in the first half, and they got to the basket fairly easy,” Cal Poly Head Coach Kevin Bromley said. “We’re just playing people when they’re playing good basketball,” Bromley said of his squad’s last place record.
However, the Gauchos may have lost senior forward Bray Skultety to injury for the rest of the season. The sixth-year reserve player went down hard with 16:05 to play in the second half, grimacing in pain while grabbing his left knee. The former walk-on was awarded a sixth year of eligibility this season after tearing ligaments in his knee at the beginning of the 2002-03 campaign, allowing for a medical redshirt in his fifth year.
“We’re all keeping our fingers crossed and giving our prayers,” Williams said somberly. “He’ll see the doctor [Monday].”
Skultety’s status remains uncertain.
The Gauchos host the University of Pacific on Thursday night at 7 in the Thunderdome. The Tigers are the hottest team in the Big West right now after snapping Utah State’s 17-game win streak Saturday night at the Alex G. Spanos Center.