This time, the Gauchos had a bench to clear.
With their roster back to a workable 10 players, the UCSB men’s basketball team used a 19-3 second half run to dispose of Idaho 54-40 on Thursday night at the Thunderdome.
“I thought we played really well in the second half; I thought our defense was just outstanding the entire second half,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams said.
UCSB limited the Vandals to 13 second-half points after trailing 23-25 going into the break. The Gauchos were much to blame for Idaho’s second half misery, forcing seven steals, many of which came on full court pressure and an aggressive zone defense.
“When we finally hit some shots and got a few turnovers and created some transition opportunities, that broke the game open,” Williams said. “The constant was the fact that we defended and they didn’t have a lot of easy looks in the second half.”
Senior guard Chrismen Oliver led the Gauchos in scoring for the seventh time this season, dropping 17 points and nabbing three steals. However, scoring was not first on Oliver’s priority list.
“When I first got out there I tried to get more shots to other people like on [freshman guard Alex Harris’] Al’s first three,” Oliver said. “[Junior guard Josh Davis] passed to me and I had an open shot, but he had an even better shot, and he didn’t have such a good first half so I wanted to get him going because he brings a lot of emotion to the team.”
Junior forward Cameron Goettsche was another catalyst for UCSB, missing a double-double by one rebound. The resident acrobat for the Gauchos netted 13 but was limited to just one dunk.
Getting Goettsche involved was a big part of Williams’ game plan, and if the Gauchos want to be competitive down the stretch, Goettsche will have to be a reliable option.
“Coach [Williams] has been telling me that they’re going to go to me in the post; I just have to work on my post game and get a good percentage of my shots to go down so they keep going to me,” Goettsche said.
Another check marked on the Gauchos’ laundry list was their victory on the boards Thursday against the Vandals. UCSB out-rebounded the Vandals 32 to 25 after losing the battle of the boards for the past three games, all losses.
“For the most part, we didn’t get annihilated on the offensive glass. What’s been killing us in games has been the putbacks, and they hardly got any of those in the second half,” Williams said.
With the win, UCSB moved one place up in the Big West into sixth place, ahead of Irvine who lost at Pacific. Saturday, UCSB will look to keep climbing the latter when it welcomes Utah State to the Thunderdome. UCSB, who improved to 5-1 at home in the Thunderdome in conference play, will be taking on arguably the best front court in the Big West in Spencer Nelson and Nate Harris. Saturday’s game tips off at 7 p.m.