The UCSB men’s basketball team bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 79-66 victory over Hampton at the Santa Barbara Beach Classic on Monday night.
A balanced effort offensively led by the trio of Ajay Mitchell, Andre Kelly, and Josh Pierre-Louis, who combined for 49 points, boosted the Gauchos to victory.
“I thought our guys had a great emphasis early in the game to get the ball to Andre, and he really did a great job,” said UCSB coach Joe Pasternack. “What we have to be able to do is play two halves and play for 40 minutes, and we struggle with that as a team right now.”
Miles Norris had a down shooting night but more than made up for it on the glass by grabbing a career-high 16 rebounds. His performance helped the Gauchos out-rebound Hampton 47 to 25 overall.
“All summer long, we’ve just been pounding into him that he has to be a complete player and not just a three-point shooter,” Pasternack said. “His shot didn’t fall tonight, and he went and had 16 rebounds, so that was huge.”
The Gauchos took a 10-9 lead with 16:29 remaining in the first half and never trailed for the remainder of the contest.
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Mitchell shot 5-of-6 from the field and made both of his three-point attempts on his way to 17 points and eight assists.
“I think it was more about the mindset. The last three games, I was really worried about me shooting the ball, making shots, and I wasn’t able to do that,” said Mitchell of his efficiency. “Today I was just worried about winning and finding my open teammates. When I was open, I was like, ‘I got to shoot it,’ and I was ready to shoot it.”
UCSB extended its lead to 42-23 just before halftime on a Pierre-Louis layup. He was relentless, attacking the basket throughout on his way to 16 points.
In the second half, Hampton was able to heat up offensively behind the hot shooting of Luc Therrien and Jordan Nesbitt, who finished with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Nesbitt shot 3-of-4 from three-point range, and Hampton shot 8-of-17 from distance as a team. The Pirates outscored UCSB 43-37 in the second half, but never cut the deficit under nine points.
The Gauchos will have the second day of the Santa Barbara Beach Classic off before playing on the third and final day. During that final contest, UC Santa Barbara will take on the University of North Alabama Lions. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m.