In its first game of the new year, the UCSB men’s basketball team defeated The Master’s College 81-52 for its third straight victory and sixth win in the last seven games.

With Saturday’s victory at the Thunderdome, UCSB improves to 9-4 on the season, while Master’s remains at 11-2 as the contest counted as an exhibition for the NAIA school.

“We wanted to go out there and play hard no matter who we’re playing, and play with a lot of energy and a lot of excitement, and be excited to play the game of basketball,” junior center Alan Williams said. “I think we did that today. We just went out there and fought, and I think if we continue to do this we can make a lot of noise.”

Big Al brought in the new year in the same dominating fashion he finished 2013, leading UCSB with 23 points and 12 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. Williams ranks fifth in the nation in scoring (23.5 points per game) and eighth nationally in rebounding (10.7 rebounds per game), while also leading the Big West in each category.

“They had nobody who could handle him. It didn’t look like anybody on the team could handle him whatsoever,” Head Coach Bob Williams said. “He’s played very similar to that against some of the best competition on the West Coast that we’ve played. He’s probably as good a gamer, consistently, night in and night out, as anybody that we’ve had here in my 16 years.”

Leading by a mere five points midway through the first half, the Gauchos went on a 15-0 run to extend their lead to 39-19, essentially putting the game out of reach by halftime.

Santa Barbara continued to control the game after the break, outscoring Master’s 40-28 in the second half while holding the Mustangs to a 34.5 shooting percentage throughout the contest.

Sophomore forward Mitch Brewe recorded his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Combined with Williams’s performance, the duo helped give UCSB a 45-28 advantage on the glass and provided a major advantage in the post game.

“[Mitch is] still fully adjusting to what his role will be, but you can tell he is more and more comfortable week after week of playing and he is more of an asset week after week,” Williams said. “He can be that physical presence that we need. Mitch has become a really valuable player for us, and that’s what we envisioned when we recruited him.”

Senior guard Kyle Boswell added 14 points off the bench, while junior point guard Zalmico Harmon and freshman point guard Eric Childress each added six assists for UCSB.

Saturday’s victory concluded the nonconference portion of the schedule for UCSB, which featured an impressive victory over Pac-12 school Cal and narrow road losses at the hands of NCAA Tournament contenders UCLA, Colorado and Utah State. The Gauchos enter conference play with the second best nonconference record of any team in the Big West and look to be one of the premiere contenders for the conference title.

“I feel like we’ve come pretty far. I feel like we can be a lot better,” Big Al said. “We have a lot of areas we can improve on, just little stuff that will turn us from a good team into a great team.”

UCSB begins Big West play next Saturday, Jan. 11 at home against rival Cal Poly.


A version of this article appeared on page 5 of January 6th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.

Photo by Mark Brocher of the Daily Nexus.