SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Leland King II scored 22 points and collected 13 rebounds, and Max Heidegger scored 19 points and made a pair of key three-pointers in the closing minutes, as UC Santa Barbara held off visiting UC Riverside for a 65-57 win on Saturday night.
King scored 17 of his points and made 4-of-5 three-point attempts as the Gauchos (12-4 overall, 1-1 in Big West) raced out to a 44-28 halftime lead. They opened the second half on a 12-5 run to push the advantage over the Highlanders (5-11, 0-2) to 56-33.
UCR, however, wasn't done and rallied to within 56-51 with an 18-0 stretch that culminated with a lay-up by Dikymbe Martin at the 5:06 mark.
A three-point basket by Heidegger with 4:37 remaining stemmed the tide and gave UCSB a 59-51 lead, but Chance Murray answered with a lay-up to close the gap to 59-53 with 4:10 on the clock.
Again, it was a Heidegger who responded for the Gauchos.
After a missed three by Marcus Jackson, Heidegger intercepted a pass by Murray on the defensive end and then drained his fifth three-pointer of the game on the offensive end, giving UCSB a 62-53 edge with 3:13 left.
"Max has been making big shots for us all year," said head coach Joe Pasternack. "We have some guys who want the ball in their hands when we need a basket and Max is at the top of that list."
A leaning jumper by Martin brought Riverside within 62-55 with 2:54 to play, but a baseline jumper by Gabe Vincent and a free throw by King made it 65-55 with under a minute to play, sealing the win.
The Gauchos went ice cold in the second half allowing UCR to rally. After making 56.7% overall and 53.8% from three-point range in the first half, they made just 22.6% overall and 26.7% from distance in the second half. At one point, UCSB missed 15 of 16 shots overall.
"They (Riverside) are a good defensive team," Heidegger said. "They also don't quit, but neither do we. It was nice to get our first league win."
The double-double by King was his fourth straight and ninth of the season, all in the last 11 games. He and Heidegger combined for 41 of the team's 65 points, making 15-of-30 field goals overall and 9-of-17 from three-point territory.
The Highlanders were led by D.J. Sylvester with 13 points. Murray added 11 and Alex Larsson had 10 to go along with 11 rebounds.
Santa Barbara is now 7-0 at the Thunderdome this season.
UCSB will hit the road for its only game next week, traveling to the University of Hawai'i for a game on Saturday, Jan. 13 that will tip-off at 10:00 p.m. (PST).