Gauchos Dominate Early, Roll to 88-69 Win Over Montana State

JaQuori McLaughlin (Photo by Tony Mastres)
JaQuori McLaughlin (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Ar'Mond Davis scored a career-high 22 points, JaQuori McLaughlin added 19 and UC Santa Barbara jumped out to a 13-0 lead and rolled past visiting Montana State on Saturday afternoon, 88-69.

After the Bobcats (1-4) missed their initial shot of the game, McLaughlin drained a long three-pointer, propelling the Gauchos (3-1) to a 13-0 game-opening run. He finished 4-of-7 from outside the three-point arc. During that stretch, UCSB made all five of its field goal attempts, including a trio of three-pointers by Davis and point guard Devearl Ramsey in addition to McLaughlin's. 

"We got off to a really good start and that kind of set the tone," said head coach Joe Pasternack. "I thought our backcourt was outstanding today. JaQuori, Ar'Mond, Devearl. They were all really good." 

Ramsey scored 13 points to go along with a season-high eight assists. He and McLaughlin shared the point guard duties, combining for 13 assists and just four turnovers. As a team, Santa Barbara had 21 assists and just eight turnovers." 

"I thought this was our best game, assist-to-turnover," Pasternack said. "We always want to have 10 or fewer turnovers and that hadn't happened in the past. JaQuori's a point guard, Devearl's a point guard. We're playing with two point guards on the court and that really helps with ball movement and getting the ball in the paint. They had 13 assists and four turnovers and that's a big, big deal."

The point guard tandem also helped set-up its teammates for several easy baskets. As a team, the Gauchos shot 55.7% overall, their best mark against a Division I opponent this season. They also made a season-best 11-of-22 three-point attempts, 50.0%. 

"I try to find the guys in the spots that they're most comfortable," Ramsey said. "I've got to give credit to everyone today. Our ball movement was good and guys were getting good looks." 

UCSB's lead ballooned to 48-32 by halftime and climbed as high as 24 on two occasions in the second half. After McLaughlin made a three-pointer with 14:39 to play in the game to stretch the advantage to 65-41, Montana State responded with a 17-3 run to pull within 68-58 with 9:49 remaining.

The lead was still 10 at 70-60 when the Gauchos used a 14-4 burst to push it back to 84-64. The final three points of that rally came on a three-point basket by Davis, his second of the game. 

"This was Ar'mond's best game for us," Pasternack said. "We know he can score in a lot of ways and he showed that today." 

Davis was 7-of-14 from the field, including 2-of-6 from three-point range, and also made 6-of-7 free throw attempts.

Freshman Amadou Sow made 5-of-7 field goal attempts to finish with 11 points, along with a game-high eight rebounds. Freshmen Jay Nagle and Sékou Touré scored six and five points off the bench respectively, combining to make all four of their field goal attempts, including all three of their three-point shots. Senior Jarriesse Blackmon tied his career-high with three blocked shots.

The Bobcats were led by Tyler Hall who had 21 points and five assists. Several NBA scouts were in attendance to watch Hall, who made 6-of-16 field goal attempts and just 2-for-8 from three-point territory. Ladan Ricketts made 4-of-6 three-point attempts and had 12 points, while Devin Kirby was a perfect 5-for-5 to finish with 11 points.

UCSB will play its next two games at the Vandal Holiday Hoops Showcase in Boise, Idaho. The Gauchos will open the tournament against Portland State on Friday, Nov. 23 at 4:00 p.m. (PST). They will play the University of Idaho on Saturday, Nov. 24 at 6:00 p.m. (PST), before returning home on Thursday, Nov. 29 for a 7:00 p.m. game against Sacramento State at the Thunderdome.