For just the second time in eight years, the UCSB men’s basketball team came away from Cal Poly’s Mott Gym on the short end of the final score. The Gauchos (7-9 overall, 1-4 in the Big West) lost their eighth game on the road this season 74-62 on Saturday afternoon in San Luis Obispo.
With this victory, which was Cal Poly’s first home win of the season against a Division I team, the Mustangs (5-11 overall, 3-2 Big West) moved to third place in the conference behind UC Irvine and Long Beach State. Sophomore guard Dawin Whiten clinched the victory for Cal Poly with 24 points on 9-18 shooting and five three-pointers.
“[Whiten’s] a really good player,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams said. “He made his shots tonight. He made some deep threes; you have to give him credit. He’s a versatile player and a tough matchup for us.”
Both teams traded buckets through the first eight minutes before Cal Poly went on a 14-6 run, finishing the first half with a score of 34-31. Mustang junior forward Derek Stockalper knocked down five of his eight shots for 11 points in the half.
Entering the game with the conference’s worst free-throw percentage, the Gauchos went 6-6 from the charity stripe in the first half and made 87.5 percent of their foul shots in the game.
The Gaucho defense struggled in the second half. Santa Barbara forced just one Mustang turnover in the second 20 minutes, while allowing six three-pointers – four at the hands of Whiten.
The Gauchos’ inability to hit shots from beyond the arc, combined with their defensive breakdown, gave Cal Poly the home victory. UCSB shot just 28.6 percent from three-point range and turned the ball over 11 times.
“Our three-point game was terrible tonight,” Williams said. “I also don’t think we got [Chris Devine] enough touches in the paint. Cal Poly did a good job. In four out of the five positions they are quicker than us. We have to make open shots. We had 21 three-point attempts and probably 19 of them were open shots.”
Senior guard Cecil Brown led UCSB with 15 points and seven boards. Four Gauchos put up double-digits in scoring, including 13 from sophomore forward Chris Devine who went 6-7 from the field. Senior guard Joe See recorded his fourth straight game with at least 10 points and dished off three assists.
After the loss against the Mustangs, Santa Barbara is looking forward to its upcoming three-game home stand. The Gauchos kick off a series this week, hosting Cal State Northridge on Thursday and Pacific on Saturday.
“We’ve got three straight home games,” Williams said. “These games are must-wins for us. Our main goal right now is to fight back to .500 in league.”