UC SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Irvine parlayed a late 18-4 run into a second consecutive Big West win over visiting UC Santa Barbara on Monday night, 73-69.
The Gauchos (4-3, 0-2 Big West) rallied from 10 points down to take a 58-49 lead in the second half, but the 18-4 stretch by the Anteaters (5-4, 2-0) proved decisive.
UCSB began its rally just after the halfway point of the second half.
Anteater guard Andre Henry was fouled while making a short jumper and he made the free throw to give the home team a 47-45 lead, but a pull-up jumper by Miles Norris and a three-pointer by Ajare Sanni at the 9:45 mark, gave the Gauchos a 50-47 lead.
Following a steal by Norris, Sanni was fouled on the perimeter and made a pair of free throws to push the lead to 52-47. Collin Welp hit a short leaner in the lane to make it 52-49 with 8:36 left, but UCSB responded in a big way with back-to-back three-point baskets from Sanni and Norris, pushing the lead to 58-49 with 7:49 remaining.
A jumper by Brad Greene, a Gaucho turnover and a D.J. Davis three-point basket pulled Irvine within 58-57 with 4:22 on the clock. UCSB missed a pair of shots on its next possession and Welp made a layup to give his team a 59-58 advantage. After another defensive stop, Welp was fouled while hitting a jumper and made the free throw to push the lead to 62-58 with 2:44 remaining.
Back-to-back made jumpers by JaQuori McLaughlin and Sanni made the score 62-62, but a long three from the right corner by Dawson Baker and a short jumper by Greene gave UCI a 67-62 edge. A pair of free throws by McLaughlin cut the gap to 67-64, but Davis matched those with a pair of his own with 48 seconds to play, making it a 69-64 game.
A pair of free throws by McLaughlin at the 0:33 mark made it 69-66, but Davis again matched the free throws with 29 seconds left and it was 71-66 Anteaters. Sanni was there again for UCSB with another three-pointer at the 0:12 mark, but Davis made two more free throws after he was intentionally fouled with 10 seconds on the clock for the final margin of 73-69.
UCSB was led by McLaughlin who finished with 22 points, which included a 12-for-12 performance from the free throw line. He was 5-for-12 from the field and also added five assists. Sanni scored his Gaucho high with 18 points, making 6-of-7 shots overall, including a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the three-point line. Norris added 16 points on 7-of-13 from the field and 2-for-6 from three-point territory.
UCSB tied a school record by making all 19 of its free throw attempts.
UCI was led by Welp with 16 points and nine rebounds. Baker added 14 points and made 4-of-7 three-point attempts. Greene had 10 points and eight boards and his team had a 37-26 rebounding edge.
The Gauchos are scheduled to host Cal State Fullerton for a pair of games this weekend. The contests are slated for 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 1 and Saturday, Jan. 2 at the Thunderdome and will be carried on ESPN3.
Article courtesy of UCSB Athletics.