Calvin Wishart scored 15 points in his final game at the Thunderdome. | Credit: ENTENZA

The UCSB men’s basketball team saved its best performance at the Thunderdome this season for the last game of the regular season.

The Gauchos put together a spectacular effort and claimed a share of the Big West regular season championship with a 81-61 victory over Hawai’i on Saturday night.

“The guys were really ready to go here tonight and had unbelievable energy and were so focused,” said UCSB men’s basketball head coach Joe Pasternack. “I told them, ‘21 assists to four turnovers, when the stakes are the highest and you are playing together, it’s everything.’”

The victory extends UCSB’s current winning streak to four games. The Gauchos have thrived of late despite significant adversity brought on by injuries throughout the roster. 

A gutsy win over Long Beach State with only eight scholarship players available February 23 sparked a turnaround that has UCSB playing excellent basketball going into the Big West Tournament next week. 

“At the beginning of the year, we came up with one word and that was ‘attitude,’” said Pasternack. “What that means is: how do you respond when something bad happens?”

Against Hawai’i seniors, Miles Norris, Calvin Wishart, and Andre Kelly put on a show in their final games at the Thunderdome. Norris finished with a team-high 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Kelly scored 12 points on six-of-seven shooting and also finished with 10 rebounds. Wishart scored 15 points and shot three-for-five from beyond the three-point line. 

The Gauchos raced out to a 46-26 halftime lead and never looked back.

“Being able to cut down the nets in the T-dome tonight was special,” said Wishart of UCSB’s Big West regular season championship and postgame celebration.

UCSB men’s basketball celebrates its Big West regular season championship. | Credit: Lily Chubb

Ajay Mitchell had a solid outing orchestrating the UCSB attack with 10 points and 11 assists. Cole Anderson also reached double figures with 14 points, including four three-pointers. 

UCSB will be the second seed at the Big West Tournament behind top-seeded UC Irvine. The Gauchos (24-7 overall, 15-5 Big West) and Anteaters (22-10 overall, 15-5 Big West) split their regular-season meetings, with each team losing on their home court. The next tiebreaker was results against the third-place team. UC Irvine swept UC Riverside and UCSB lost both matchups with the Highlanders. 

The Gauchos will take on the winner of the Long Beach State versus Cal Poly matchup in the quarterfinals on Thursday, March 9.


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