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A second half surge by the UCSB men’s basketball team broke open a tight game as the Gauchos passed an early season test with a 75-58 rout of previously unbeaten Sacramento State on Thursday night at the Thunderdome.
Sacramento State has already defeated defending Big West regular season champion UC Davis and Big West Tournament champion Cal State Fullerton this season. Those matchups gave the Gauchos an opportunity to see if they measured up against some of their conference competition at this early stage in the season.
“Before the game I told our team ‘we’re going to really (use) this game to judge our team against the conference,” said UCSB coach Joe Pasternak. “For us it’s great to be able to do some comparison and see kind of where are team is right now.”
Defensive dominance and balanced offense were the keys to UCSB’s success against the visiting Hornets. The Gauchos held Sacrament state to 28-percent shooting in the first half and 40.8-percent for the game.
Pasternack also played 11 guys, as his rotation at times was more reminiscent of a hockey line change. The depth of talent the Gauchos displayed paid dividends especially on the defensive end where energy and effort were never a concern.
Armond Davis and Amadou Sow paced UCSB offensively with 14 points apiece as four Gauchos reached double figures. In addition, freshman Sekou Toure chipped in nine points and six rebounds in ten minutes on the court.
“This is my favorite team I’ve ever played on. We don’t have anybody selfish on this team,” Davis said. “Everybody drives in and if somebody is open they’ll kick it to them and things like that.”
The Hornets (3-1) used a 7-0 run to cut their deficit to 30-27 on a layup by Osi Nwachukwu with 11 seconds remaining in the first half, but Devearl Ramsey snatched back the momentum by banking in a runner as the halftime buzzer sounded, increasing the UCSB lead to 32-27.
A 16-3 run by the Gauchos midway through the second half was capped off by a thunderous put-back dunk by Idehen Robinson with that gave UCSB a 59-40 lead with 8:06 remaining in the game.
The Sacramento state offense never truly got on track as leading playmaker Marcus Graves was held to eight points and one assist with five turnovers. The Hornets were led in scoring by center Joshua Patton, who banged his way to 15 points.
The Gauchos (6-1) will play at the University of Washington in their next contest on Dec. 2 beginning at 5 p.m.