In front of the largest home opener crowd in over five years, the UCSB men’s basketball team kicked its season off on the right foot with an 82-59 victory over University of San Francisco on Friday night at the Thunderdome.

“Santa Barbara out-competed us tonight,” USF Head Coach Jessie Evans said. “They had the advantage of opening at home and that’s a big advantage. I certainly give [Santa Barbara] a lot of credit. They played within themselves tonight and shared the ball well. The big people really stepped up for them.”

With 3,433 fans in attendance, the Gauchos (1-0 overall) used a balanced offense and stifling defense to hold off USF (0-1 overall). Down 11-9 early in the first half, UCSB put together a 21-7 run thanks to five threes from sophomore guard Alex Harris and senior guard Joe See to take 30-18 lead with 4:52 left in the first half. The Gauchos held on to take a 34-27 lead into the half.

See and Harris combined for 17 points in the first half on 5-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Santa Barbara’s defense held the Dons to an ugly 26.9 percent shooting and forced eight turnovers in the first half.

“Every good team recognizes the guy with the hot hand,” sophomore forward Chris Devine said. “We had a couple of those guys tonight, and Joe was one of them. We are always looking for him.”

A slow start to the second half saw USF take its third lead of the game, 41-40 with 14 minutes remaining on a three from senior guard Dommanic Ingerson. Ingerson finished with 17 points going 5-6 from three-point range.

The Gauchos answered with three points from Devine before USF tied it up at 43. Sparked by a three pointer from See with 13:17 remaining, Santa Barbara went on a 21-4 tear that ended on back-to-back treys from freshman forward Tom Garlepp, giving the Gauchos a 65-47 lead. Garlepp scored nine of his 16 points during the 21-4 run.

“Tom did a great job,” Devine said. “He surprised me tonight. In practice he hadn’t been going too hard for boards, not as hard as Coach wanted him to. But tonight he had some huge rebounds. He played very well.”

The Dons could not close the gap, despite strong play in the second half from Ingerson and senior guard Armondo Surratt, giving UCSB the 82-59 win. Surratt and Ingerson combined for 37 points and were the only San Francisco players to convert from three-point range.

The Gauchos were led in scoring by See and Devine who both dropped 17 points. Devine finished his first regular season game in a UCSB uniform with a game-high six assists and seven boards. Harris finished with 14 points and five assists to complete a quartet of Gauchos scoring in double-digits.

“I thought that Chris Devine and the subs off of the bench stood up to the challenge tonight,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams said. “Six of seven from three point range [in the second half] is pretty darn good shooting. I was awful impressed with See, [Garlepp], Devine and Harris in the second half.”

Coming off its third straight season opening win, Santa Barbara will look to continue its success tonight against University of San Diego. The Toreros won their opener 90-81 over Campbell University on Friday night. The Gauchos lead the all-time series 12-5 but suffered a 71-63 loss in San Diego last year.

Tip off for tonight’s matchup is scheduled for 7 at the Thunderdome.