Gauchos Succumb to USC's Late Run, 96-72

Alex Hart (Photo by Percy Anderson)
Alex Hart (Photo by Percy Anderson)

LOS ANGELES –USC ended the game on a 30-13 run to blow open a close contest en route to a 96-72 win over visiting UC Santa Barbara on Sunday night.

The Gauchos (0-5) cut the lead to 66-59 on a lay-up by Clifton Powell, Jr., with 8:16 to play, but the Trojans (6-0) responded with a 7-0 run in just over a minute to extend the advantage to 83-59. 

"They are a very explosive team and they showed that tonight, especially over the last eight minutes or so," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "They just had too much fire power for us tonight." 

Bennie Boatwright started the game-ending 30-13 run with a three-point basket. He finished with five three-pointers and a game-high 21 points. In all, USC made 14 three-point baskets, equaling the most by a Gaucho opponent this season. 

"We just didn't rotate out quick enough to contest their perimeter shots as strongly as we needed to," Williams said. "They swing it really fast and we just couldn't get out to their shooters. They're also really long and they're release point is high, that makes it tough too." 

While the Trojans won the game from the outside, UCSB used its inside attack to keep the game close most of the way. Jalen Canty scored a career-high 16 points and had his second double-double of the season with 10 rebounds. Alex Hart also had a career-high with 14 points while Ami Lakoju tied his career-best with 12 points and added six rebounds. Lakoju made 6-of-7 field goal attempts. 

"I thought our frontcourt had a nice offensive game," Williams said. "That's as much production as we've gotten out of them this year. It was good to see Alex play with confidence and, for the most part, they stayed out of foul trouble and that helps too." 

Gabe Vincent gave the Gauchos four players in double-figures, finishing with 15 points. Eric Childress had six points, all on three-point baskets, but also had a season-high seven assists. 

All five USC players scored 13 or more points. In addition to Boatwright's 21, Elijah Stewart made four threes and had 17 points, while Shaqquan Aaron and Chimezie Meto each added 15. 

Santa Barbara made 30-of-66 field goals overall, shooting a season-high 45.5%. While they made just 5-of-22 from three-point territory, the Gauchos hit 25-of-44 shots from inside the arc, 56.8%. They also committed a season-low nine turnovers.

The Trojans made 33-of-61 shots overall, 54.1%, and 14-of-35 from three-point range, 40.0%. They also had a 38-29 rebounding edge.

UCSB will be aiming for its first win of the season on Thursday, Dec. 1 when it hosts Sonoma State at 7:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome. The game will be the last time the Gauchos will play prior to final exams and it will tip-off at 7:00 p.m.