On a night that saw the Gauchos shoot a ridiculous 57.1 percent from three-point land, the UCSB men’s basketball team could not get the winning trey to fall, dropping a 72-70 decision to Northridge last Thursday night.
Santa Barbara (8-12, 2-6 Big West) held the ball with 13 seconds left, and took a timeout to set up an inbounds play for the final shot. Sophomore guard Jordan Weiner found himself with an open look with under ten seconds on the clock, and sent up a clean shot that looked good for the win, but clanged out of the back of the rim. Freshman forward Jaime Serna hit one of two free throws on the Gauchos’ previous possession to knot the match up at 70-70, but the Matadors snagged the lead back with an easy lay-up after UCSB left the back door open on a double-team. Head Coach Bob Williams said that Weiner took the shot he needed to take.
“We had four options on [the final play],” Williams said. “The first option was pretty open and Jordan let go of it. I’m not going to question it; the last thing I said was if you’re naked at the three, lets win this thing.”
Despite forcing 21 CSUN turnovers, the Gauchos gave up 18 of their own in the match. With both teams shooting in the 41 percent range and taking a similar number of shots, Williams said that the UCSB turnovers were the real killer.
“I just think that turnover bug bit us every time we got momentum,” Williams said. “As good a defense as they play – and they do harass you, and they lead the league in turnovers and all that – but more of our turnovers were created off our decisions than were off of their harassing, and that’s a disappointing element. There’s no doubt that our veteran guards need to lead the way, and we have to take better care of the ball for this team to win.”
The big positive for Santa Barbara was the shooting of the squad’s veteran players, something that has not been consistently good this season. Senior forward Chris Devine, who gave a brilliant performance, led all players with 16 points off of 4-7 shooting to match 12 rebounds, also a game-high. Junior guard James Powell hit all four of his three-point attempts, some from very long range, to match four quality assists and four boards. Powell said that extra shooting practice might be beginning to pay off, but it still wasn’t enough to grab the victory.
“All the guards have been doing extra shooting lately after the performance at UOP and at Davis when guards weren’t really making too many shots,” Powell said. “We’ve been waking up and coming in and getting extra shots. So I’m not sure if [our shooting was because of] that more than just being the flow of the game. I was happy that [our shots] were going in, but really that doesn’t mean anything because we lost.”
Devine said that, despite the loss, the team played harder than they have in recent memory, and bringing that effort to the court will be key in finding success.
“I mean, the big things we’ve talked about in practice are the things we control,” Devine said. “Effort wise, I thought we fought tough. If a couple things go [our way], a couple shots go in, whatever – you know what I mean? It was a pretty close game. If we keep bringing this effort, we’ll beat some teams for sure.”
Powell said that if UCSB keeps playing the way they did against CSUN, their record will begin to look a lot better.
“I think that with the effort we’ve shown in practice and days like tonight, we could’ve won this game,” Powell said. “I don’t think anyone is going to get down – if you get yourself down you’re only going to get yourself further [into a hole]. So all we can do is keep trying to practice, keep trying to improve like coach said, keep giving out 100 percent effort because if we keep giving the effort we gave tonight, I don’t think we’re going to be losing too many more games.”