The UC Santa Barbara men’s basketball team was back in the Thunderdome to take on Cal State Bakersfield on Jan. 21, 2023. The Gauchos sent fans home happy as they sealed their 16th victory of the season comfortably with a score of 76-58.

Joshua Yepez Martinez / Daily Nexus

Senior forward Miles Norris started the Gauchos out on the right foot as he won the tip-off and nailed a 3-pointer to put the Gauchos up early.

From that point on, the game became a close battle. With 11 minutes left in the first half, graduate forward Andre Kelly shot a jump shot to tie the score at 13-13. Sophomore guard Cole Anderson then swished a 3-pointer to make it 16-15.

UCSB soon pulled away with a slight lead, but the Roadrunners cut the deficit by 1 point after freshman forward Koat Keat Tong was called for a technical foul for flopping. CSUB knocked down the free throw making the score 21-20.

The Gauchos fired on all cylinders as they went on an 18-4 run to end the first half. The Gauchos led 39-24, with Norris and Anderson contributing 9 points each to the team. 

Coming out of the locker room, UCSB continued to pour it on. With 9 minutes left in the game, senior guard Josh Pierre-Louis had everyone rise to their feet as he did an acrobatic layup to extend the Gauchos’ lead to 62-41.

A little scuffle did arise as sophomore guard Ajay Mitchell was fouled hard mid-court, where 2 possessions earlier, he was fouled in the air, causing some shoulder discomfort. Mitchell walked up fine, but 2 technical fouls were distributed in the aftermath. One of the technical fouls was on Kelly. 

From there on it was smooth sailing as the Gauchos went on to win 76-58, pushing their win streak to 3 games and landing themselves at 1st place in the Big West Conference standings.

Norris dominated the whole game as he finished with 24 points, making 10 of 13 shots. Norris also led the team in 7 rebounds, 2 assists and one 1 steal. 

Anderson also finished with double digits in points. He finished with 11 points, and went three-for-six from behind the arc. 

Mitchell and Pierre-Louis also played well as they finished with 8 points each. Mitchell finished with 4 assists, and Pierre-Louis finished with 6 rebounds. 

Norris spoke about the team’s next matchup against the University of Hawaii on Jan. 26. 

“Oh yeah, I’m definitely fired up for that. It’s always a fun game,” said Norris about the upcoming match. “The crowd is always loud. We know it’s a hard place to play. But you know, it’s always an exciting game. So, I think everybody’s looking forward to that this week.”

The Gauchos will head over to Hawaii on Thursday, Jan. 26. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

A version of this article appeared on p. 7 of the Jan. 26, 2023 print edition of the Daily Nexus.