Although Saturday marked a historic game, the UCSB men’s basketball team was not celebrating after dropping its third straight 65-53 to Pacific at the Thunderdome.
The win gave Pacific Head Coach Bob Thomason his 300th victory with the team, pushing his record to 300-219 with the Tigers and 352-246 in his career. Thomason is in his 19th year as head coach at Pacific and is the senior coach in the Big West Conference.
“It mostly tells you that you’re old,” Thomason said. “You just think about the players you’ve coached and how happy you are for their success over the years.”
With their second largest home crowd of the season on hand for a televised game, the Gauchos (7-11 overall, 1-6 in the Big West) could not suppress a late surge from Pacific despite tying the score with 12 minutes left in the game.
“I liked everybody’s aggression in the second half,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams said. “The team came out very aggressive and ready to battle after halftime. We just couldn’t finish it.”
Down by nine at the half, UCSB came out on fire, going on a 15-4 run to take the lead on consecutive three-pointers from senior guards Cecil Brown and Michael Chambers. A rebound and bucket from Brown with 10 minutes remaining gave the Gauchos their biggest and final lead of the game, with a score of 47-42.
From there, the Tigers and senior guard Steffan Johnson took control. Over the next three minutes, Johnson recorded all of his points and a steal to put Pacific back on top 53-47. The Tigers used 15 points off of six UCSB turnovers in the second half to seal the game. The Gauchos were outscored 18-6 in the final 11 minutes.
“I thought the Johnson kid coming in changed the speed of the game,” Williams said. “His quickness level really gave them a big boost.”
Tiger senior forward Christian Maraker, the leading rebounder in the conference, notched a game-high 20 points while snagging seven boards, while senior guard Mike Webb added 11 points and four steals.
Brown and sophomore forward Chris Devine again led Santa Barbara with 17 and 12 points respectively. After pulling down just seven boards as a team in the first half, the Gauchos worked the glass in the second half, thanks in part to junior forward Glenn Turner’s 11 rebounds. In his first start of the season, Turner played a season-high 26 minutes, leading all for rebounds and adding seven points.
“We challenged them before the game to rebound better,” Williams said. “We only had seven boards at half time and Glenn had four of them. He played very well on the glass tonight.”
The Gauchos’ 19 turnovers contributed to the loss. Santa Barbara has turned the ball over 44 times in the past two games, but played better defensively in Saturday’s match, forcing 14 turnovers and recording seven steals.
“A lot of guys struggled with the turnover bug,” Williams said. “We had 19, and that’s too many.”
Santa Barbara continues its homestand against UC Davis on Thursday before heading away for a tough road trip at UC Irvine – currently undefeated in the Big West – and at Long Beach State next week.