The UCSB men’s basketball team lost to Cal Poly 86-79 last night, giving the Mustangs their first season sweep of the Gauchos since the 1997-98 season.
With the loss, the Gauchos (15-8 overall, 6-4 in the Big West) remain a game behind Cal State Fullerton (18-6 overall, 8-4 Big West) for second place in the Big West Conference. The Mustangs (13-10 overall, 5-5 Big West) moved into fourth place in the conference, only a game behind Santa Barbara.
Cal Poly made 15 of 30 attempts from beyond the arc and used a late first-half run to pull away from the Gauchos. UCSB cut a 16-point deficit to four late in the second half, but were unable to get any closer down the stretch.
“It’s a very discouraging effort out of our guys tonight,” Head Coach Bob Williams said. “We made a run, but at the same time we didn’t sustain it. Cal Poly has a lot of guys that shoot the ball well and they really did a great job of picking us apart with threes.”
Junior guard Alex Harris led the Gauchos with 19 points on seven-of-16 shooting. Junior forward Chris Devine finished with 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds, but had five turnovers and struggled to beat Cal Poly’s double-teams. Senior guard Cecil Brown and freshman guard James Powell added 13 points each, and freshman guard Justin Joyner finished with six points, five rebounds and a team-high six assists.
Senior forward Derek Stockalper had 19 points on eight-of-12 shooting to go along with seven rebounds to lead Cal Poly. Five Mustangs finished in double-figures, including sophomore guard Trae Clark who finished with 18 points and a game-high nine assists. Junior guard Dawin Whiten took all 10 of his shots from beyond the arc, making five and finishing with 15 points and five assists
The Gauchos shot 53 percent from the field, but poor transition defense and too many turnovers allowed the Mustangs to build a big lead. Cal Poly scored 15 points on 12 UCSB turnovers.
“I thought our effort in transition defense was not very good and our consistency at the defensive end was not what it’s been the last four or five games,” Williams said. “We didn’t get to the foul line too often and we just couldn’t contain them at the defensive end.”
UCSB outscored Cal Poly 44-41 in the second half, but it wasn’t enough as the Mustangs built a 45-35 lead at halftime. With the starters struggling in the first half, Williams went to his bench and extended a rotation that had been limited in recent games. Ten different Gauchos saw the court with eight of them scoring, but it wasn’t enough as the porous defense allowed Cal Poly to shoot 52 percent from the field.
UCSB returns home on Saturday to take on Eastern Washington (12-14 overall, 6-8 in the Big Sky Conference) in an ESPN Bracket Busters game. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m. at the Thunderdome.