The UCSB men’s basketball team suffered its first Big West loss of the season Thursday on the road at UC Riverside before beating UC Irvine at home on Saturday. The Gauchos (8-6 overall, 3-1 Big West) are in third place in the conference, behind only Long Beach State and UCR.
Senior guard Orlando Johnson led Santa Barbara with 15 points in the 74-56 win over Irvine. Junior forward Keegan Hornbuckle added 14 points and senior guard James Nunnally added 11 to round out a balanced Gaucho attack.
Freshman center Alan “Big Al” Williams led the team with 13 rebounds, his second consecutive double-digit rebounding effort.
A sloppy, 10-turnover first half for UCSB was reversed in the second period as the Gauchos committed just five turnovers. UCSB scored 23 points off of Irvine’s 21 total turnovers throughout the game.
A strange call by the officials at the end of regulation against Riverside deflated the Gauchos. A pair of free throws by Johnson gave UCSB a 63-61 lead with 11 seconds left. Johnson was called for a foul on the ensuing play while applying minimal pressure on the UCR offense.
Santa Barbara protested and the officials got together and reversed the call — only to then reverse the call again, deciding that the call could not be changed. Riverside went on to win 79-70 in overtime.
UCSB hosts Cal State Northridge on Thursday and Long Beach State on Saturday before a four-game road trip.