The UC Santa Barbara men’s basketball team secured their tenth win a row — the longest streak for the team since Joe Pasternack started as head coach — following back-to-back victories against University of Hawaii. The Gauchos’ 59-50 Friday win was their lowest-scoring game of the season, though the guys bounced back to defeat the home team 81-74 in overtime on Saturday. Santa Barbara, now holding a 14-3 overall and 8-2 conference record, sits in the number one spot of the Big West Conference.
Senior JaQuori McLaughlin and junior Amadou Sow came out of the weekend as UCSB’s top scorers, throwing 62 points onto the board. 30 points from Sow earned the forward a spot in UCSB history as the 30th Gaucho to join the 1,000-point club. Another 31 points from McLaughlin leaves the guard just 6 points away from the same title. On top of his 9 added assists, he is on track to become only the third Gaucho to have 1,000 points and 300 assists.
Senior guard Devearl Ramsey joined the two on the leaderboard in Saturday’s game, going 10-10 on the free-throw line and securing an additional 7 points from the court. An effective Gaucho offense proved itself to be crucial in Saturday’s win. Overall, the team shot with 54% efficiency compared to their opponent’s 45.1% and bested the Rainbow Warriors in points in the paint 46-24.
Throughout the first half, neither the Gauchos nor the Warriors were able to make significant breaks and kept within 6 points of one another. It wasn’t until the last five minutes that UCSB’s defense kicked in and its offense picked up the pace, catching a 16-point stride while holding Hawaii to just 3 points. UCSB’s momentum carried well into the second half, at one point pulling 16 points away from Hawaii.
However, an abrupt change in momentum left the Gauchos struggling to hold onto their lead; a jump shot to put Hawaii up and a quick responding dunk from UCSB junior Miles Norris tied the game 62-62 in the last two minutes of the half, sending the game into overtime.
McLaughlin kicked off the overtime period with a clean 3-point jump shot in the first 30 seconds, and dinged a few more free throws and jump shots in the rest of the period. Ramsey secured 8 points in free throws alone, including the Gauchos’ final 2 points and securing a victory.
Friday’s game played out much differently. The Gaucho offense struggled to put numbers on the board, putting significant pressure on its defensive performance. UCSB saw a significant change in its field goal percentage, hitting just 36.7% of shots on Friday compared to 53.7% on Saturday. Nonetheless, the Gauchos held a steady lead the entire game — 37 rebounds on top of a season-low 7 turnovers kept the Warriors from ever pulling ahead.
Sophomore reserve Josh Pierre-Louis entered the game around the 15-minute mark and made aggressive efforts at the rim and from the field in the first half. A layup, a 3-pointer and a pair of steals marked his time on the court. Another layup in the second half would take UCSB to its biggest lead of the game, 37-24. In total, the sophomore contributed 11 points, the third-highest scorer behind teammates Sow and McLaughlin.
This week, the Gauchos are coming back home to the Thunderdome to host Cal State Bakersfield in another set of back-to-back games. Bakersfield, ranked second in Big West and holding a 14-7 overall and a 8-4conference record, is coming off of a hot two wins against UC San Diego. However, a victory against the Gauchos will be a tough feat given that Santa Barbara has yet to lose a home turf match. Game one is set for Friday, Feb. 19 at 8:00 pm.