The Gaucho men’s basketball team accomplished more than just a win over Pacific on Thursday night.
In their 61-48 victory, they handed the Tigers (14-7 overall, 7-2 Big West) their second loss of the season in Big West play, swept the season series against Pacific 2-0, and snapped the Tiger’s 16-game winning streak on their home court at the Alex G. Spanos Center.
“From what I’ve heard, they haven’t lost here [in Stockton] in a while,” Gaucho sophomore guard Orlando Johnson said in a postgame interview with KIST-AM. “It was [their] first loss here in like two years.”
UCSB (12-8 overall) also improved to 7-3 in conference play, pulling themselves within a half game of the first-place Tigers. Johnson scored a career-high 28 points on 8-16 shooting in the effort. Junior forward James Nunnally added 19.
“I’m really, really proud of the effort we put in tonight,” Gaucho Head Coach Bob Williams told KIST. “We didn’t play perfect, but we played really physical.”
The Gauchos never trailed in the game. Leading 3-2 with 17:40 left in the first half, UCSB scored 11 unanswered points and ended the first half leading 34-22.
The Tigers started off the second half with a dunk and a layup, dropping UCSB’s lead to eight. After a Gaucho timeout, Johnson responded with a three-pointer, Pacific missed two free throws and Nunnally hit a layup to bring the Gauchos’ lead back up to 13. Pacific never broke the Gaucho’s double-digit lead again.
In the game, the Tigers missed 21 of their 27 three-point attempts and shot 29.7 percent from the field overall — about 15 percentage points below their .446 field goal shooting percentage on the season. Meanwhile, the Gauchos shot 45 percent from the field and hit six of their 13 shots from behind the arc.
“I thought we were good defensively,” Williams continued. “When we’re alive and we’re focused, we’re pretty good on that end of the floor. I think Pacific had a little bit of an off night shooting. I don’t know why, it’s their house. They don’t lose any games in this place.”
UCSB will continue its Northern California road trip on Saturday at UC Davis. Last night, the Aggies cruised past Cal Poly 83-63 and now share third place with the Mustangs with a 5-4 conference record.
“[The Aggies are] a team that’s getting healthy,” Williams added. “There is a move on their part, trying to establish where they’re gonna be in this league. It’s a team that we physically have to do to them what we did to Pacific tonight.”