The UC Santa Barbara men’s basketball team was able to secure a 61-54 victory in the low scoring affair versus the Fresno State Bulldogs.  

Joshua Yepez Martinez / Daily Nexus

The match began as a slow buildup for the Gauchos, as they fell behind early, and the Bulldogs ran up the score to 10-2 with 16:40 on the clock. The Gauchos’ struggles continued as they were not able to cross double-digits until the end of the nine-minute mark. 

Senior guard Josh Pierre-Louis made a 3-point shot to get the Gauchos to 11 points in the game. From there, the Gauchos slowly chipped away before 2 free throws from redshirt senior guard Calvin Wishart put the Gauchos up 21-19 with four minutes and 17 seconds remaining in the first half. Graduate forward Andre Kelly would get the Gauchos last bucket of the half, with the Gauchos leading 23-21 headed into the break. 

Kelly, the UC Berkeley transfer, put up huge numbers for the Gauchos in the post, securing 15 rebounds, 16 points and 4 assists to just 1 turnover. 

After the break, the Gauchos were once again tied before graduate guard Ajare Sanni, making his return to the starting lineup, converted an and-one play to put the Gauchos up by 3. 

A 6-0 run by the Gauchos momentarily put the Gauchos up by 6 with 14 minutes and 53 seconds remaining in the second half before the Bulldogs came storming back. A 3-pointer by junior guard Destin Whitaker and a free throw by junior guard Jordan Campbell tied the game at 34 with 11 minutes and 29 seconds left on the clock. 

Sloppy play from the Bulldogs along with shot making from sophomore guard Cole Anderson allowed the Gauchos to form an 8-point lead with just under 10 minutes to go in the match. Much like the rest of the match, the Bulldogs were able to get back into the game with a scoring drought from the UCSB shooters lasting until the six-minute mark. 

Back-and-forth play would continue until the two minute and 52 seconds mark with the score being 52-49 in favor of the Gauchos. Anderson stepped up big time, producing a 3-pointer, adding to the Gauchos’ lead. A late run by the Gauchos put the Bulldogs in the rear, as it was capped by sophomore guard Ajay Mitchell’s free throws and a Kelly dunk to cap the night. 

Mitchell struggled shooting the ball from behind the arch, shooting a mere 0-6, but made up for it at the charity stripe, connecting on 8-8 free throws. On the defensive end he also showed out, producing 4 steals while only turning over the ball once. 

Shooting looks to be a priority of the Gauchos, as they shot 36.1% from the field and 23.5% percent from the 3-point line. However, they were able to stay in the match by only turning over the ball eight times, while forcing Fresno State into committing 16 turnovers. 

The Gauchos will go for a third-straight win on Friday, Nov. 18, as they will travel to the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks court for the showdown. 

A version of this article appeared on p. 7 of the November 17, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.