SEATTLE, Wash. – Michael Bryson tied a school record with nine three-point baskets and set career-highs with 36 points and 13 rebounds as UC Santa Barbara rolled past Seattle University in its final road non-conference game of the season on Wednesday night, 88-50.
The Gauchos (5-7) have won three straight games and coupled with Monday night's win at Washington, the win over the Redhawks (6-8) gives UCSB a sweep of a true two-game, non-conference road trip for the first time since December of 1993.
"This was a great way to end a really tough stretch of time away from home," said head coach Bob Williams. "When you've been on the road for 17 of 21 days, the way we have, to win big tonight and win back-to-back games is really a big deal."
From the moment point guard Eric Childress hit a three-pointer to open the scoring the game never seemed in question. After Manny Chibuogwu responded with an inside power move, Bryson made his first three-pointer to make the score 6-2.
Seattle would hang around for the first eight minutes, cutting the lead to 17-13 on a three by Brendan Westendorf, but an 8-2 Gaucho surge, which included a second three-pointer by Childress and Bryson's fourth, pushed the advantage to 25-15 with 9:02 remaining in the first half.
Bryson finished the first half with 16 points and four three-pointers, and the Gauchos led 39-28 at the break, but it was the start of the second half when they really put the game away.
Santa Barbara exploded out of the second half gate with a 20-1 run over the first 7:37, taking a 59-29 lead and the rest was academic. Bryson made two more threes during the opening stretch, giving him six and putting him three away from tying the school record set by Brian Johnson at New Mexico State in February of 1987.
Bryson made his seventh three, tying his previous career-high, with 10:29 left in the game, giving UCSB a 62-34 lead. His next triple stretched the monstrous advantage to 65-34 with 10:29 on the clock, and his record-tying shot came with 9:13 to play and made the score 69-34. He missed his final three attempts and left the game with just over three minutes to play.
"That was fun," Bryson said. "I felt great tonight. This is a nice arena with a good background and I felt good. It was important for us not to letdown after beating Washington on Monday and I thought everyone played well."
Bryson, who passed Ricky "Tex" Walker, Connor Henry and Richard Anderson on the school's all-time scoring list and now ranks 13th with 1,268, was far more than a scorer in the win over the Redhawks. He also set a new career-high with 13 rebounds, giving him his third career double-double.
"That's important to me," Bryson said. "Scoring points and making shots are important, but the rest of my game is important to me too."
Bryson added a pair of assists, a blocked shot and a steal to his stat line.
"Michael was very special tonight," Williams said. "When he is playing like that, it's a lot of fun to watch and his teammates feed off of it."
In addition to scaling Santa Barbara's all-time scoring list, Bryson's nine three-pointers give him 196 in his career, tying him with Carrick DeHart for fourth all-time.
As was the case in Monday's win at Washington, UCSB received major contributions from several players. Gabe Vincent was the only other player in double-figures with 10, but Alex Hart added nine, while Childress and DaJuan Smith had eight apiece. Childress also had six assists and four rebounds. Maxwell Kupchak had four points and also chipped-in career-highs of six rebounds and five assists.
As a team, the Gauchos set new season-bests with their 88 points, field goal percentage at 53.1% and three-point baskets with 14. Seattle, which was led by Jack Crook with 13 points, made just 34.5% of its shots overall and a mere 8-of-34 in the second half, 23.5%. The Redhawks also had 15 turnovers to UCSB's nine.
"It will be nice to get home," Williams said. "And even nicer to get there with three straight wins."
UCSB will play its final non-conference game on Saturday, Jan. 2 when it hosts Point Loma in a 4:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome. The Gauchos will open Big West Conference play on Saturday, Jan. 9 at Hawaii and Thursday, Jan. 14 at Cal Poly. They play their first league home game on Saturday, Jan. 16 when they host UC Irvine at 4:00 p.m.