Brewe's Heroics, Bryson's Career-High Lead Gauchos Past Iona, 80-76

Michael Bryson tied his career-high with 29 points to lead UCSB past Iona, 80-76 on Tuesday in Las Vegas. (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Michael Bryson tied his career-high with 29 points to lead UCSB past Iona, 80-76 on Tuesday in Las Vegas. (Photo by Tony Mastres)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Mitch Brewe's had put-back with 22.3 seconds left and then a free throw with 5.3 seconds to play to help UC Santa Barbara withstand an Iona rally en route to an 80-76 win in the second game of the South Point Holiday Classic on Tuesday afternoon in Las Vegas. The win snaps a five-game Gauchos' losing streak. 

Michael Bryson tied his career-high with 29 points, becoming the 17th player in school history to eclipse the 1,200-point mark. He now has 1,215. 

UCSB (3-7) never trailed the Gaels (4-5) in the second half. There were three ties, the last one at 49-49 with 13:43 to play. The lead expanded to seven on three occasions and Iona had it down to one twice, the second time right before Brewe's huge put-back.

"That's was Mitch's best game in a while," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "He really played hard and came through when we needed him the most today. He scored three big points late, but he had to get two big rebounds to put himself in that situation. I'm very happy for him. 

The Gauchos may not have been in the position to win at the end if not for Bryson. Not only did the senior tie his career-high with 29, he added a team-high six rebounds and a career-high four steals. 

"Michael really took yesterday to heart," Williams said. "That (Monday) was not his best game and today may have been. He didn't settle on offense, was very aggressive, and the fact that he didn't have a turnover in 35 minutes says a lot about him and how badly he wanted this." 

The Gauchos had a 24-10 lead when Brewe made a short jumper from just inside the free throw line with 11:47 to play in the first half.

The Gaels responded by running off 16 straight points, the final three when Jahaad Proctor made a lay-up and a free throw after he was fouled by Brewe with 5:54 left in the first half, giving his team a 26-24 lead. 

UCSB outscored Iona 17-10 the rest of the half to reclaim a 41-36 lead at the break. Maxwell Kupchak and Alex Hart each had four points during the run that ended the half. Kupchak finished the game with a career-high 10 points and four rebounds. Brewe had nine points and six rebounds while Vincent added nine points, five rebound and six assists, tying his career-high.

Isaiah Williams scored a team-high 17 points for Iona, leading five players in double-figures. The Gaels stayed in the game by making 11 three-point baskets, but they were just 13-of-23 from the free throw line, 56.5%. 

The Gauchos made 21-of-28 free throws and, for the first time this season, attempted more free throws than their opponents.

UCSB returns to action on Monday, Dec. 28 when it travels to the University of Washington for a game that will tip-off at 8:00 p.m. and air on the Pac 12 Network. The Gauchos will remain in Seattle for their final game of 2015 when they play at Seattle University at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 30.