UC Santa Barbara fell to the UC Riverside Highlanders in disappointing fashion Saturday
night, losing to their conference rival 81-64 at the Thunderdome. From the opening minutes of
the first period, it simply did not look like the Gauchos’ night, as the team quickly found
themselves in an 18-2 hole after a bevy of turnovers. Fortunately, a corner three-pointer from
junior guard Cole Anderson seemed to stop the bleeding at least temporarily. As UCSB
continued to attempt a comeback, tempers began to flair up, as star Santa Barbara guard Ajay
Mitchell exchanged words and buckets with Riverside’s guard Nate Pickens. The rising tensions
may have sparked the seemingly lifeless Santa Barbara offense, with another Anderson corner
three-pointer cutting the deficit to single digits at 29-20 midway through the opening period.


Unfortunately for the Gauchos, Riverside continued raining down threes en route to a
16-point lead to close the first half. This first-half lead was mostly due to Riverside’s hot
shooting, as the visitors poured in nine three-pointers at a 53% clip. Senior guard Josh
Pierre-Louis’s acrobatic layup to beat the buzzer was a stunning highlight that not only collected
gasps and whoops from the crowd, but potentially momentum leading into the second period as

This shift in momentum proved to be true in the opening minutes of the second half, as
Santa Barbara and Riverside traded back-and-forth baskets. A three-pointer from freshman guard
Jason Fontennet cut the deficit to 12, and the Gauchos appeared back on track to make a surging
comeback. Unfortunately, the Highlander offensive overcast would eventually become torrential
once again, as the Gauchos found themselves in a 26-point crater with eight minutes left in the
game after an array of Riverside jumpshots. Despite an impressive run by Santa Barbara in the
waning minutes, this effort was ultimately too little too late, with Riverside standing triumphant
as the buzzer sounded. Bright spots for Santa Barbara, although few and far between, could be
found in Pierre-Louis and sophomore forward Yohan Traore combining for 33 points on 12 for
19 shooting.

The clear difference-maker in the matchup was the three-point attempt disparity, as UC
Riverside nearly took three times as many shots from deep as UC Santa Barbara at 30 to 12,
respectively. This is no surprise, of course, as Riverside stands at the top of the Big West men’s
basketball division in total three-point attempts on the season while Santa Barbara is second to
last in the conference in the same statistic. Head coach Joe Pasternik responded to a question of
whether this gap is a matter of offensive philosophy or due to personnel: “We are the most
efficient team in our conference for a reason.,” the Gauchos make 49% of their field goals, which
leads the Big West. “Our inside scoring is where we excel, we just need to do a better job of
containing other teams’ shooters.”

While the regular season slate may have concluded for UCSB Men’s Basketball, the
Gauchos will be heading to Las Vegas to take on Cal-State University Northridge this
Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. PST for the first round of the Big West Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Santa Barbara looks to defend their title as Big West Champions.