LAS VEGAS, Nev. - After playing Iona to a virtual standstill over the first 30 minutes, UC Santa Barbara stumbled badly down the stretch and fell in the first game at the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic, 73-57.
When Clifton Powell, Jr., made his second three-point basket of the game with 10:28 remaining, the Gauchos (1-8) trailed just 53-52, but the Gaels (8-3) finished on a 20-5 run to blow the game wide open and cruise to the victory.
"We talked about being tough enough to close out games, but we're just not there," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "This has happened several tims this year and we've got to get tougher to finish games off."
Schadrac Casimir made one of this three three-point baskets to start the game-ending stretch for Iona. Then, after Ami Lakoju made 1-of-2 free throws for UCSB, Deyshonee Much made his fifth three-pointer of the day to push the lead to 59-53 with 8:41 on the clock. Powell missed a shot and Tyrell Williams responded with a short jumper to make it 61-53. On the other end, Gabe Vincent was called for a charge and Jordan Washington hit a hanging jumper to give his team its first double-digit edge of the game, 63-53 at the 7:28 mark.
Max Heidegger drove the lane and made short shot to cut the gap to 63-55 with 7:18 left, but Iona scored the next six points to build an insurmountable 69-55 lead.
The Gauchos missed nine of their last 10 field goal attempts and seven of their last eight free throw attempts to help aid the Gaels' cause.
"It's very difficult to ovecome that kind of shooting," Williams said. "Good teams take advantage of that and they (Iona) did."
UCSB finished the game at 33.9% shooting overall from the field. The Gauchos entered the game shooting just over 25-percent from three-point range and actually made 5-of-14, 35.7%. They struggled in a big way, however, from the free throw line where they finished a mere 10-of-22, 45.5%.
Vincent made 3-of-5 three-point attempts and paced the Gauchos with 13 points. Powell and Jarriesse Blackmon each added a career-high 11 points and Jalen Canty tallied 10. Blackmon hit a team-best 5-of-8 field goal attempts and collected four rebounds off the bench.
Santa Barbara was able to stay in the game for much of the way because of its offensive rebounding. The Gauchos finished with a 41-38 rebound edge and they had 19 offensive rebounds to finish with 19 second chance points. They have now had 78 offensive rebounds in the last four games. Freshman Christian Terrell had a career-high nine rebounds to lead the way. Canty had six, including five on the offensive end, and Vincent collected five.
"I thought that for the first 30 minute of the game we played as hard or harder than them," Williams said. "We really battled on the offensive glass and that's kind of what kept us right there."
Iona was led by Much who had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Washington had 14 points and 10 boards in just 16 mintues of action. As a team, the Gaels made 10 out of 32 three-pointers, 31.3%. They were the third straight opponent to made at least 10 threes against UCSB.
The Gauchos, who had been playing relatively clean basketball recently, had 18 turnovers on the afternoon, leading to 11 Iona points.
UCSB will complete pre-Christmas play on Thursday afternoon against the University of Nevada. The last game of the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic will tip-off at 2:30 p.m. The Gauchos return home for a pair of games between Christmas and New Years as they will host Cal State Bakersfield on Dec. 27 and Seattle University on Dec. 30. Both games will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome.