Gauchos Overcome Slow Start to Top Menlo, 88-69

Amadou Sow (Photo by Gary Breedlove)
Amadou Sow (Photo by Gary Breedlove)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Amadou Sow scored a career-high 25 points and added 10 rebounds leading UC Santa Barbara to an 88-69 win over visiting Menlo College on Saturday afternoon.

The Gauchos (2-3) ended a three-game losing streak with the win over the NAIA Oaks (4-2) 

Menlo charged out of the gates, taking a 7-0 lead. John Paine opened the scoring with a three-point basket and then N'Jai LeBlanc hit consecutive layups, the second coming with 18:17 left in the first half. 

JaQuori McLaughlin's short jump shot in the lane at the 17:45 mark broke the drought and sent UCSB on a 44-22 run to end the half, giving it a 44-33 halftime advantage. Sow had 14 of his points and five of his rebounds at the break. 

"I benefit when my teammates look for me," Sow said. "Today they did a good job of finding me in positions where I could score."

Menlo hung around almost the entire second half and even when the Gauchos pushed the lead to 66-48 on a put back by Sékou Touré with 10:44 to play, the visitors battled back, narrowing the advantage to 11 three times. When Paine made a scoop shot in the key, it cut the score to 77-66 with 3:42 remaining, but Santa Barbara ended the game on an 11-3 run to extemd the final margin to 88-69. 

"I thought they (Menlo) really competed," said UCSB head coach Joe Pasternack. "They played hard for 40 minutes and we knew they would." 

The Gauchos won the game for a number of reasons, not the least of which was a 39-15 rebound edge and a 20-of-22 performance at the free throw line. They also made 55.4% of their field goal attempts.

Sow was 8-of-13 from the field and 9-for-10 from the free throw line. He also blocked two shots. McLaughlin made all three of his field goal attempts and all four of his free throws, finishing with 11 points and a game-high six assists. Brandon Cyrus and Matt Freeman each added 10 points. Freeman also had five rebounds and four assists. 

The Oaks, who shot 51.9% overall, drained 7-of-14 three-point attempts, 50.0%. They were paced by Paine who had 19 points and LeBlanc who added 10. 

UCSB will remain at home for Thanksgiving week, hosting Portland State on Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 7:00 p.m. and Grambling State on Friday, Nov. 29 at 7:00 p.m. Additionally, Portland State and Grambling will square off on Tuesday, Nov. 26 at noon in the Thunderdome.