LOS ANGELES, Calif – UC Santa Barbara played a strong first half in its game against UCLA on Sunday, taking a 34-32 lead into the locker room at halftime, but in the second half the Bruins were just too much, claiming a 77-61 win on Sunday night at Pauley Pavilion.
UCSB (1-1) had a solid first half shooting performance. After opening the half by making just 1-for-9 shots from the floor the Gauchos made 13 of their next 19 shots, 68.4%, to finish the first half at 50.0%, allowing them them to take a 34-32 lead at halftime.
The Bruins (2-0) came out strong in the second half. Trailing by two at the outset, they went on an 18-6 run and when Tyger Campbell made a leaner in the paint at the 14:20 mark, they claimed a 50-39 lead.
The Gauchos battled and pulled to within eight several times, but never closer. The last time the lead was down to eight was with 4:18 in the game when Max Heidegger drove hard to the rim and scored, despite heavy contact, to make the score 65-57.
UCLA closed things on a 12-4 run to end the game at 77-61.
"I thought their (UCLA's) size really bothered us.," said Gauchos head coach Joe Pasternack. "Jalen Hill was a monster. 24 (points), 10 (rebounds) and three blocks, that really gave us a problem. This game really came down to rebounds and turnovers. Our point guard had five turnovers, that was problem. Their size really was a problem for us. We struggled to get the ball to our post players. I think UCLA is going to be a NCAA Tournament team. It is our goal to compete against teams like that."
Hill hit 9-of-13 field goal attempts and he also added three blocked shots. Jules Bernard added 20 points and eight rebounds.
Heidegger was outstanding for UCSB. He finished with a team-high 21 points to go with six assists, one steal and a pair of rebounds. He made 7-of-12 field goal attempts and all six of his free throws.
"I don't think we played tough enough in the second half," Heidegger said. "I give them (UCLA) a lot of credit. They were just tougher. We really have to get better and that will happen over time. We are a relatively young team. We just have to get back at it on Tuesday. We have to recalibrate."
Santa Barbara made 7-of-22 attempts from three-point range in the game. Graduate transfer Matt Freeman, who played at Oklahoma for his first three seasons, finished with 12 points and made 3-of-6 shots from beyond the three-point arc. Beyond Heidegger, Freeman was the only other Gaucho in double-figures.
Amadou Sow fouled out for UCSB, but had seven points, one blocked shot and 10 rebounds before he left the game. Sophomore Jay Nagle played just 14 minutes, but he drained both of his three-point attempts in the game.
The Gauchos, who had just four turnovers at halftime, finished with 14. The 10 second half turnover were pivotal.
"You can't turn the ball over 10 times in the second half and expect to win," Pasternack said. "We've got to protect the ball better than that. Our guys know that,"
UCSB returns home on Saturday, November 16 when it hosts Rice University in a 2:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome.