SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara led from start-to-finish for the third straight game and won its fourth consecutive game overall, 62-55 over visiting UC Davis on Saturday night.
The Gauchos (13-12 overall, 7-5 in Big West) defeated the Aggies (10-16, 5-8) for the second time in nine days and moved over the .500 mark for the first time since beating Omaha in the season opener on Nov. 13.
"We've gotten back over the break even mark and that's a very good thing," said head coach Bob Williams. "I thought we played really hard tonight. We didn't shoot well, which they had a lot to do with, but we played very hard."
UCSB led 31-20 after a sloppy first half that saw the teams combine for 21 turnovers, but Davis scored the first six points of the second half to cut the lead to 31-26.
A 9-2 run, highlighted by a pair of Gabe Vincent three-pointers and one by John Green, extended the advantage to 42-28 with just over 14:58 on the clock. The lead was 13 when the Aggies went on a 7-0 run to cut it to 52-46 on a three-pointer by Darius Graham with 4:35 remaining.
A pair of timeouts sandwiched a missed shot by Davis and Eric Childress took advantage by making a three-pointer from the corner to make it 55-46. Michael Bryson then made a pair of free throws and a the lead was back to double-figures, 57-46.
In the final minutes, the Aggies were able to carve the lead to seven at 59-52, but could get no close and the Gauchos put an exclamation point on the victory when Eric Childress fed Vincent for a fast break slam dunk with 1:02 remaining, expanding the lead to 62-52.
Vincent finished with a game-high 21 points and tied his career-high with four of UCSB's season-high 13 steals. Childress had 11 points, five rebounds and four assists. Bryson battled foul trouble and missed his three field goal attempts, but he was a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line, adding seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Vincent has 11 steals in the last three games.
The Gauchos overcame a poor shooting night as they made just 33.3% from the field, including 25.8% in the second half. Davis made just 38.9% from the field overall and 26.3% from outside the three-point line.
UCSB hit 18-of-21 free throws. It was the its third straight game with a free throw advantage as Davis was just 8-of-14, 57.1%.
"We've been a lot more aggressive in the last few games," Williams said. "The fact that we're leading late forces teams to foul us, but we have generally been more aggressive going to the basket. That's made a difference."
The game marked the 37th straight win by UCSB when holding an opponent under the 60-point barrier.
The Gauchos hit the road for a pair of games next weekend. They will travel to Cal State Northridge on Thursday, Feb. 25 for a 7:30 p.m. game at the Matadome. On Saturday, Feb. 27 they will play a 6:00 p.m. game at Cal State Fullerton.