On Senior Night in the Thunderdome, the UCSB men’s basketball team marched out its five seniors at the opening tip as the heralded class led the Gauchos to a decisive 90-43 victory over UC Davis.
“That was probably the most fun game I have been a part of,” senior guard Christian “Goose” Peterson said. “We jumped out on them early and after that we were just playing relaxed and having fun.”
Despite the win, UCSB (18-9 overall, 12-4 Big West) will enter the Big West Tournament as the third seed, behind first-place Long Beach State (22-8, 15-1) and second-place Cal State Fullerton (21-8, 12-4). Fullerton beat Long Beach on Saturday 77-74 to win the tiebreaker with Santa Barbara despite having the same conference record. UCSB will play Pacific (11-18, 6-10) in the opening round of the tournament on Thursday.
“The seeding doesn’t really matter to us,” Peterson said. “It’s tough to beat a team three times, but we are familiar with Pacific and feel confident. The early game on Thursday gives us a chance to rest until Friday’s game if we win also.”
Senior guard James Nunnally led the way for the Gauchos with 21 points including five three-pointers. Senior guard Orlando Johnson added 20 points, including four three-pointers. As a team, UCSB was on fire from three-point range, hitting 13-of-24 on the game. Nunnally is now fourth on the Gaucho all-time scoring list with 1,619 career points.
Senior forward Jaimé Serna, a four-year starter, scored four points to go with three rebounds and three assists. Senior center Greg Somogyi filled up the stat sheet with six points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and four blocks. Somogyi is currently second on the UCSB all-time blocks list with 181. Peterson added five points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Goose also hit his first three-pointer of his career in the second half.
“I was telling the guys all week that I was gonna put up a three,” Peterson said. “Coach told us he was going to take out all the seniors in a couple minutes, so I said ‘give me the ball, I’m putting one up.’ I got the ball from Jaimé and just let it fly … it felt good right away.”
Off the bench, freshman center Alan Williams added 17 points and nine rebounds and sophomore guard Kyle Boswell poured in 14 points including three three-pointers.
On the first shot of the game, Johnson hit a three-pointer that set the tone for the rest of the night. Up 21-13, UCSB ran off a 22-0 run to stretch its lead to 30 with just under six minutes to play in the first half. Santa Barbara entered the locker room up 47-21.
UCSB came out in the second half and continued the onslaught. The Gauchos ended the game on a 16-2 run to win with its largest lead at 90-43. The 47-point margin of victory was the largest for UCSB since a 1971 win over Chicago State 108-56.
Tip-off for UCSB’s first-round matchup with Pacific is set for noon on Thursday.