The UCSB men’s basketball team got bucked from its horse, dropping its Big West quarterfinal game to Central Coast rival Cal Poly last night.
The Mustangs (10-18 overall) downed Santa Barbara 57-50 in a game that saw neither team shoot higher than 36 percent from the field. The Gauchos (15-14) were knocked out of the tournament with the loss, finishing the season with eight wins out of their final 11 games.
“I think it’s disappointing compared to the expectations of what we felt we were capable of [at the start of the season],” UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams said. “I’d say the biggest disappointment was tonight’s game and the funk we fell into early in league. Overall, the guys gave us a great effort. … They came back and showed a lot of character.”
In an ugly first half, Cal Poly shot just 22.7 percent from the field, while the Gauchos were not much better, going 8-29 in the first twenty minutes. Although UCSB took a 14-7 lead with 8:50 remaining, an 11-4 Mustang run from there brought the half to a close with the score knotted at 18.
“I like the flow of the offense early, but boy oh boy we missed so many shots in the first half,” Williams said.
Santa Barbara started off the second half equally as cold from the floor, going nearly seven minutes without a field goal to hand the Mustangs a 31-22 lead. Cal Poly never trailed in the second half, although the Gauchos closed the gap to four in the final two minutes.
The Mustangs hit just three of their final seven free throws but UCSB could not get any closer, missing two foul shots and two field goals down the stretch. Cal Poly’s 43 rebounds ( including 12 on the offensive end ( led to 10 second chance points in the second half.
“This is another evening where we go out and can’t seem to find any way to put the ball in the basket,” Williams said. “[Cal Poly’s] rebounding was the difference in the game.”
Senior forward Cameron Goettsche scored 15 points to lead all players and was the only double-digit scorer for the Gauchos. Cal Poly freshman forward Titus Shelton was the game-breaker, notching a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards on 5-7 shooting from the floor.
“I just really wanted to get a win tonight,” Shelton said. “I wanted to come out and play hard. I was hoping to play well tonight for my team and for my coaches.”
The win moves the Mustangs into a semifinal matchup with #1 Pacific tonight. Santa Barbara closes out its season saying goodbye to five seniors: Goettsche, guards Joe See, Michael Chambers, Cecil Brown and Josh Davis.