Gauchos Crush Point Loma for Fourth Straight Win, 87-46

Sam Beeler (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Sam Beeler (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara closed the first half on a 39-9 run to take a commanding 43-14 lead at half time and then cruised through the second half of an 87-46 win over visiting Point Loma on Saturday afternoon. The win was the Gauchos fourth in a row. 

A three-point basket by Sam Okhotin gave the Sea Lions their only lead of the game at 5-4. UCSB (6-7) began its 39-9 stretch with a 14-0 run to take an 18-5 lead. UCSB expanded the lead to 64-23 with 13 minutes to play and settled for the 41-point margin.

"This was an important game from the standpoint that we needed to keep playing hard and efficiently," said head coach Bob Williams. "After the first few minutes, I thought we kind of found ourselves and played at the same level we played at on the road."

The Gauchos were coming off of a two-game road trip in which they swept Washington and Seattle University. 

Gabe Vincent made 4-of-6 three-pointers and finished with a game-high 22 points. Sam Beeler was a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor and set a career-high with 14 points and Michael Bryson added 13. 

"We feel pretty good about where we're at right now," Vincent said. "Earlier in the season we were struggling, but I think we've started to play the way we're capable."

Beeler scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half. 

"My teammates were getting me the ball in good spots," he said. "Right now we are playing really unselfish and I kind of benefitted from that today." 

UCSB produced its fourth straight game with at least 80 points, the first time the program has accomplished that since February of 1973 when it scored 80 or more in five straight. 

"I like the way we're moving the ball right now," Williams said. "When you make the extra pass, keep the ball going, you get more open looks, so it's no accident that our scoring is up. 

As a team, the Gauchos made 38-of-71 shots overall, 53.5%, a season-high. They were 9-of-21 from three-point range, 42.9%. In addition, they won the rebounding battle 51-33 and forced Point Loma into 21 turnovers. The Sea Lions made 11 three-point baskets, including eight in the second half. They were led by Okhotin who finished with 13 points.

In addition to the three players in double-figures, UCSB got solid contributions from Maxwell Kupchak (seven points, five rebounds and four assists), Eric Childress (five assists, three steals and three rebounds), Jarriesse Blackmon (eight rebounds, two blocked shots, two steals and two points), Grant Troutt (eight points) and Mitch Brewe (eight points, four rebounds, one steal).

The Gauchos open Big West Conference play on Saturday, Jan. 9 when they travel to the University of Hawai'i for a 9:00 p.m. (PST) game against the Rainbow Warriors.