For 28 minutes, it seemed like the Gauchos were poised to do the unthinkable against #19 Pacific, but fruitless shooting over a seven-minute stretch turned the notion into fiction.
Down 48-44 with 11:45 remaining in the second half, having faced a double-digit deficit for the majority of the period, UCSB appeared to have all the momentum, and even Head Coach Bob Williams couldn’t help but cheer his underdogs. That would be the last cheering they would get to do for a while though.
From that point on, Pacific went on a 16-0 run to put away the Gauchos and make their Big West clincher a comfortable one, settling on a 77-56 win. UOP moved to 15-0 in conference play, solidifying the top seed in the upcoming Big West Tournament.
A season-high 5,906 (ninth-highest home attendance ever at UOP) at the Spanos Center in Stockton was rewarded for its showing as they watched the home team cut down the nets after its fourth-straight win over Santa Barbara and its 17th straight game overall while UCSB lost for the 11th straight time on the road.
The Tigers were led by the multinational trio of Guillame Yango (16 points), Christian Maraker (14) and Jasko Korajkic (12). UOP shot 59 percent from the field to the Gauchos’ 40 percent.
UCSB stayed in the game with tremendous perimeter play in the first half and deadly three-point shooting. UCSB hit eight three-pointers in the first 28 minutes, but there wasn’t much the Gauchos could get done inside with the absence of Cameron Goettsche, who was forced to remain in Santa Barbara to heal an ailing back. Sophomores Glenn Turner and David Kennedy were left the bulk of the work in the paint but could only manage 10 points between the two of them.
The Gauchos shot themselves in the foot at the free throw line where they went 2-8, the lowest number of made free throws since Dec. 10, 2002, in a game at Cal when they made just one.
UCSB freshman guard Alex Harris went for double-digits for the third-straight game, leading the Gaucho attack with 16 points. Junior guard Joe See found his shooting stroke as well, going 4-5 from three-point land and equaling Harris with 16 points of his own.
UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams was unavailable for comment after the game. Santa Barbara will return to action this Saturday when it will try to break its road losing streak at Cal Poly at 7 p.m. in San Luis Obispo.