UCSB Defeats Sac State to Complete Pre-Christmas Schedule, 82-72

Jalen Canty goes up for two of his season-high 15 points in UCSB's 82-72 win at Sacramento State on Saturday night. (Photo courtesy of Sacramento State Sports Information)
Jalen Canty goes up for two of his season-high 15 points in UCSB's 82-72 win at Sacramento State on Saturday night. (Photo courtesy of Sacramento State Sports Information)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara used an 13-2 run to end the first half turning a one point advantage into a 44-32 halftime lead en route to an 82-72 win at Sacramento State on Saturday night.

The Gauchos (10-3) ended the first half by making five of their final seven shots, including a pair of three pointers by Marcus Jackson, to give themselves some breathing room against the Hornets (3-10). 

UCSB maintained a double-figure lead for almost the entire second half as it won its second game in a row and ninth in the last 10. Every time Sac State looked like it might creep back in, Santa Barbara had an answer. 

"It's not easy to win on the road," said head coach Joe Pasternack. "We had some defensive lapses, but when we had to respond, we were able to. Tonight we had 19 assists and just five turnovers and when you are able to produce that type of ratio, you give yourself a chance to win."

Jackson was one of the keys for the Gauchos as he played one of his best all-around games of the season. The graduate transfer from Rice finished with 13 points, eight assists, four rebounds, one blocked shot, one steal and just two turnovers. 

"Marcus was outstanding tonight," Pasternack said. "He sets the tone for us with his unselfishness. He finds the open man, but can also knock down big shots. As a team, we talk about 10 four-minute wars and his two threes at the end of the first half were big." 

Santa Barbara extended the lead to 18 on three occasions in the second half, but on the strength of 14 second half points by Justin Strings and 13 by Jordan Tolbert, the Hornets were able close the gap. When Strings made a three-pointer with 1:34 left, the lead was down to 79-70. 

Once again, UCSB had a response as Max Heidegger, who finished with a game-high 23 points, knocked-down his fourth three-point basket of the game to push the score to 82-70 with 1:09 to play and the game was, essentially, over. 

For the third time this season, the Gauchos had five starters score in double-figures. In addition to Heidegger and Jackson, Jalen Canty equaled his season-high with 15 points to go along with nine rebounds, Gabe Vincent had 12 points, and Leland King added a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. He also had four assists, tying his career-high set during his sophomore year at Brown University. Canty had four blocked shots, one shy of his career-high. 

As a team, UCSB shot 47.1% overall and made 11-of-24 three-point attempts, 45.8%. After being outrebounded 12-4 to start the game, the Gauchos finished with a 40-33 rebound edge. 

Strings had 19 points, Tolbert 16 and Joshua Patton chipped-in 15 for Sac State, which came into the game having won 55 of its last 73 games at the Hornets Nest. Strings also had a team-high nine rebounds. 

UCSB will conclude non-conference play and close out 2017 with a game on Saturday, Dec. 30 against Pacific Union. Tip-off against the Pioneers is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. 

Following the game against Pacific Union, the Gauchos will open Big West Conference play on the road with a Jan. 4 game at Cal Poly. They return home on Saturday, Jan. 6 to host UC Riverside in a game that will start at 9:00 p.m. and will be aired on ESPNU.