For about 35 minutes, the UCSB men’s basketball team flourished with just seven available players, battling Idaho to a 47-47 tie. After 40 minutes, though, UCSB had nothing to show for it.
The Gauchos (4-8 overall, 2-3 in the Big West) hit a wall after tying the game with 5:46 left as the Vandals (5-9, 3-0) went on a 13-0 run and a 61-50 victory to remain undefeated in Big West play.
“I thought certain guys looked a little bit fatigued, but when you’re a basketball player and you play 40 minutes, you’re going to get tired,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams said. “Your ability to play when you get tired is what separates you from being an average or below-average basketball player to being an above-average or good basketball player.”
Vandal forward Anton Lyons administered the largest dent to the Gauchos’ cause, tacking on a game-high 22 points and eight rebounds.
“I’m more focused than I ever was,” Lyons said. “My teammates have been finding me and letting me know that they have confidence in me.”
Time and again down the stretch, UCSB failed to convert on opportunities near the bucket and open looks from the arc, but Williams’ main concern after the game was the Gauchos’ inability to compete on the defensive end.
“I thought we had still played hard, but in the last four minutes I thought we kind of gave in a bit, and it was at the defensive end that we gave up second shots, and we gave up some penetration and created opportunities for them,” Williams said.
UCSB, which was missing junior forward Cameron Goettsche on the road trip due to an injured groin, struggled again on the glass with just one true big man, sophomore forward Glenn Turner, who tied a school record with six blocked shots in the game. When the shots got past Turner, though, there was little UCSB could do. Idaho out-rebounded UCSB 42-29 overall, 16 of which came on the offensive end.
“The difference in the game was we weren’t tough enough to put the ball in when we got near the basket, and you’ve got to finish at the defensive end,” Williams said.
Two days after draining the second-highest number of three-pointers in a game, junior guard Joe See was limited to just six points on two threes. Junior forward Josh Davis, who has also been looked upon to compensate for the loss of Casey Cook’s 10-points-per-game average, was also held to just six points in 32 minutes.
“We need more balanced scoring; we need [See] to hit four or five threes in a game like this,” Williams said. “We need Josh Davis to be stepping up and scoring more. He had a lot of nice drives, but he couldn’t finish.”
Williams and his staff will cross their fingers and hope Goettsche will be ready to play Thursday, when the Gauchos will host rival Cal Poly and hope to return to .500 in the Big West.