Feb. 3, 2000
San Luis Obispo, Calif. - There is something about playing at Cal Poly that gets UC Santa Barbara guard Brandon Payton's juices flowing and his jumpers falling.
On Thursday night, Payton came off the bench to make 8-of13 shots from the floor (3-of-4 from three-point range) and all eight of his free throws to score a career-high 27 points in lead the Gauchos to an 87-79 win over the Mustangs at San Luis Obispo.
Payton, who scored 18 of his 27 points in the first half, hit his final basket, a three-pointer, with 2:26 remaining in the game. The basket broke the seventh tie of the game, 74-74, and gave UCSB the lead for good at 77-74. After Mark Hull rebounded a Mike Wozniak miss at the other end, Erick Ashe drove the lane for the Gauchos and dished to Adama Ndiaye for a slam dunk, giving UCSB a 79-74 advantage with 1:32 remaining. Ndiaye was fouled while making the dunk, but missed the charity shot. Cal Poly's Jeremiah Mayes was fouled on the rebound. Mayes went to the free throw line where he made one out of two shots to narrow the Gaucho advantage to 79-75 with 1:30 left.
When Mayes missed the second of two free throws, Hull once again grabbed the rebound. On the offensive end, Ashe missed a three-point attempt, but Payton came up with the rebound. Ashe then missed a driving layup, and Mustang guard Watende Favors rebounded, but when he turned to go up court, UCSB guard Larry Bell stole the ball and drove down the left side of the lane for a slam dunk, giving the Gauchos an insurmountable 81-75 lead with 0:39 remaining in the game.
In the final 39-seconds, Ndiaye hit a pair of free throws and another slam dunk and Ashe drilled two free throws. Cal Poly's Mike Wozniak, who finished with 36 points and Chris Bjorklund, who ended the contest with 23, each made layups in the closing seconds.
The 27-points scored by Payton (on 8-of-13 from the field overall, 3-of4 from three-point territory and 8-of-8 from the free throw line) were four better than his previous career-best of 23, set two seasons ago at Cal Poly. Last year, he had a 17-point game, including a jumper and a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to give UCSB a narrow win at San Luis Obispo. Payton paced four Gauchos in double-figures. He was joined by Ashe who scored 16 despite making only 4-of-17 shots from the field. All four of Ashe's field goals were from three-point range. Ndiaye used his late spurt to finish with 12 points. He played the entire second half after being limited to only three minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. Bell scored a season-high ten points. In addition to his ten points, Bell added eight rebounds, six assists and a steal. Despite being limited to six points (2-for-9 from the field and 2-for-6 from the free throw line), Hull pulled down a career-best nine rebounds.
For the game, Santa Barbara outrebounded Cal Poly by a 47-33 margin. In addition to Hull's nine rebounds and Bell's eight, guards Derrick Allen and Payton had seven and five respectively
Wozniak and Bjorklund combined for 59 of Cal Poly's 79 points. Mayes, who entered the game averaging 13.6 points per game, attempted only one field goal (he missed it) and finished with one point.
With the victory, the Gauchos have now won three of their last four games, all in Big West play and two of them on the road, to improve to 7-11 overall and 3-4 in the league. The Mustangs drop to 6-13 overall and 1-6 in the Big West.
UCSB returns home on Saturday to open a three-game homestand. The Gauchos host the University of Idaho on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome. Next week, Santa Barbara will host Cal State Fullerton on Thursday and UC Irvine on Saturday night, both games to begin at 7:00 p.m.