FULLERTON, Calif. – For the first time in five games UC Santa Barbara trailed briefly, but led by John Green who scored 19 points and Michael Bryson who matched him with 19 and broke the school's all-time record for career three-point baskets, the Gauchos came back and rolled to a 80-62 win at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday evening.
The win was the sixth in row overall for UCSB (15-12 overall, 9-5 in the Big West) and the fourth in a row on the road.
"We were really sharp again," said head coach Bob Williams. "When our ball movement is as good as it was tonight, when we are as unselfish as we were tonight, we're going to get a lot of good looks and we have guys who can really knock down shots."
Bryson needed four three-pointers to break James Powell's school record of 221 and did it one better making five. He now has 223.
"I've always said I don't worry about things like that," Bryson said. "But it's always nice to set a record. I appreciate my teammates, they're the ones who get me the ball in the position to get good shots."
Bryson had plenty of company as six different Gauchos made at least one three-pointer and the team made 13-of-25, one shy of its season-high.
UCSB trailed 9-7 when Malcolm Brooks made a three-pointer with 16:25 left in the first half, but responded with a devastating 17-0 run to take a 24-7 lead. Gabe Vincent made back-to-back threes to start the run, which also included a pair of jumpers by Green, a slam dunk by Sam Beeler, a Mitch Brewe put-back and a three by Maxwell Kupchak.
The Gauchos led 41-30 at halftime and after Tim Myles started the second half with a 10-foot jumper, pulling the Titans within single-digits at 41-32, Santa Barbara responded with three consecutive three-point baskets. Bryson made the first, Vincent the second and then Bryson the third to push the lead to 50-32 with 16:55 left in the game.
Fullerton closed to within 50-36 on a pair of free throws by Khalil Ahmad at the 15:46 mark, but a three-pointer by Eric Childress made it 53-36 and the advantage never dropped below 15 the rest of the way. Bryson's final three-pointer came with 5:23 to play and gave UCSB its biggest lead of the game, 77-46.
Tre' Coggins scored 14 of his game-high 24 points in the final 4:54 as the Gauchos once again emptied their bench and settled for an 18-point win.
Green's 19 points, his highest total since scoring 22 in the season-opener at Omaha, came on 8-of-9 shooting from the field overall. He made 2-of-3 from three-point range and didn't miss a two-point shot.
"When John gets it going like that we can be really good offensively," Bryson said. "He and Gabe (Vincent) make really diverse offensively. Those are guys you can just give the ball to and know they are going to get something done."
Green scored his 19 points in just 18 minutes and led a UCSB bench that finished with 37 points. Kupchak was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field and had seven points, while Brewe added six, T.J. Taylor three and DaJuan Smith two.
"That was great bench production tonight," Williams said. "When you get 37 points as efficiently as our bench did tonight, you are going to win some games. John, Maxwell, Mitch, T.J. and DaJuan all gave us something tonight."
In its two games against the Titans, the Gauchos made 25-of-49 three-point attempts. They made 12-of-24 in an 81-68 win on Feb. 6. That win started the team's current six-game winning streak.
Overall, UCSB made 33-of-60 field goal attempts, 55.0%, and had 19 assists on its 33 baskets. Childress and Taylor each had four. Childress added three steals and Bryson had a game-high eight rebounds to go with his 19 points.
UCSB will return home for its final two regular season games, hosting UC Riverside at the Thunderdome on Thursday, Mar. 3 at 7:00 p.m. The Gauchos will honor their six seniors at their final regular season game on Saturday, Mar. 5. They will host Blue-Green rival Cal Poly in the finale, tipping off at 4:00 p.m.