A team that out-shoots and out-rebounds their opponent usually wins, and a team that gives up a 15-0 run late in the game will usually lose. Last night the UCSB men’s basketball team did both, and gave up a 65-54 lead with four minutes to play to lose 73-72 at the University of San Francisco.
Sunday night’s game showed a lot of positives for Santa Barbara, but like their previous two games against North Carolina and Utah State, UCSB could not put the complete package together for the victory. All three losses have been characterized by large runs given up by the Gauchos down the stretch, and all three have seen SB chasing from behind in the closing minutes.
The biggest plus on the court for Santa Barbara against San Francisco was the return of big production from senior forward Chris Devine and junior guard James Powell. Against UNC, the star duo combined for only 13 points off of 6-22 shooting. They obviously had put that game behind them, with Devine snagging game highs for points and rebounds with 24 and eight, respectively. UCSB got to the line only 13 times total against the Tarheels, yet against the Dons Devine made 16 visits to the charity stripe, sinking 14.
Powell, who shot only 1-9 from behind the arc last Friday, made his presence known with a rock-solid 6-12 night from three-point land. Those 18 points pushed him a long way toward his 22 point total. His output was incredible in the first half, hitting five of six threes en route to 17 points before the break. While he cooled off in the second stanza, Powell finally asserted himself as the Gauchos’ go-to shooter.
The other largest positive for the Santa Barbara squad was their 33-23 rebounding margin. After getting out-rebounded in their previous two games, UCSB came out cleaning the glass with furor. Playing against his former team in a match that he said he had circled ever since he transferred, junior forward Jesse Byrd matched Devine with eight boards. Senior guard D.J. Posley rounded out the top three with five.
Still, the tale of the match comes down to the blown double-digit lead late in the contest. Despite winning the rebound advantage, UCSB handed it right back to USF with a painful -9 turnover differential. Meanwhile, the Dons went absolutely crazy from beyond the arc in the final minutes. Led by guards Angelo Caloiaro and Dior Lowhorn, who had four and three three-pointers apiece, USF hit 11 of 18 three- point attempts, a ridiculous 61.1 percent.
Lowhorn, the Dons’ leading scorer, notched eight of his 17 points during his squad’s 15-0 final run, while UCSB did not even attempt a shot thanks to six turnovers over the three minute span. A huge strong point for the Gauchos this season has been production from their bench – for example, freshman forward James Nunnally had a stellar night with a team-leading 22 points as a substitute against UNC – but the Santa Barbara reserves only took 14 shots against USF to contribute 15 points.
In then end, every member of the Santa Barbara squad has shown so far this season that they can play well. The key for the squad is going to be getting everyone playing well together every night, but they still have a lot of preseason left to work the kinks out. This weekend UCSB heads to Illinois for the World Vision Invitiational, opening up play in the tourney Friday against Winston-Salem State.