On a night that honored hardwood greats from Santa Barbara’s past, Pacific (14-2 overall, 9-0 in the Big West) showed the largest Thunderdome crowd of the year where the power presently lies in the Big West.
UCSB (7-9 overall, 4-4 Big West) started off slow and couldn’t recover from a 30-18 halftime deficit, falling to league-leading Pacific 58-43 on alumni night.
David Doubley led the way for Pacific, going six-of-eight from the field and totaling 16 points to lead Pacific to its 10th consecutive win and its 22nd Big West win in a row going back to last season.
Junior guard Josh Davis was the only Gaucho able to find the bottom of the net with any consistency, scoring a career-high 21 points, including five three-pointers.
“Josh brought a really good game, but I don’t think the rest of us played the way we’re capable or the way we need to in order to compete with a team of Pacific’s caliber,” Head Coach Bob Williams said.
UCSB was plagued all night by errant shooting. Williams watched his seven players shoot 25 percent in the first half, and while their cold hands warmed a little in the second half, the Gauchos finished at 27.8 percent from the field.
“If we had seven guys who made shots tonight, we wouldn’t be talking about us having just seven guys,” Williams said. “Having seven was not the difference in this game. The difference was we didn’t make shots.”
Pacific, who leads the conference in field goal percentage, had no such problems putting the ball in the basket. The Tigers shot 47.8 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from beyond the arc.
“All night we didn’t get stops, and that was a big issue. We didn’t make a defensive stand like we did in the Northridge game. Our energy was low, and they were just zipping the ball around out there and getting whatever they want.”
Pacific appears to be the Big West favorite for the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight year. Last year, Pacific made some noise in the Big Dance, upsetting fifth-seeded Providence University in the first round, only to lose a well-fought battle to national powerhouse University of Kansas. Williams does not see it being a cakewalk for the defending Big West champs though.
“I’ll be amazed if they go through this league unscathed,” Williams said. “They’re really good, but it’s going to be tough for them when they go to Northridge. It’s going to be tough for them when they go to Utah State and Idaho.”
Overall, UCSB now stands in fifth place after having its three-game winning streak snapped. Santa Barbara will look to get back above .500 this week at Riverside and Fullerton on the road.
“You kind of have to just put it away,” junior guard Michael Chambers said. “It’s just one loss. We gotta try to put it behind us and win the next one.”
UCSB, having won three of four on the homestand, has struggled on the road thus far this year. The Gauchos are 1-7 on the road.