SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (Nov. 21, 2022) – The annual Santa Barbara Beach Classic is back as UC Santa Barbara Men's Basketball hosts the Hampton University Pirates and the University of North Alabama Lions. From Monday to Wednesday, The Thunderdome will be home to three basketball games.
The tournament will start on Monday, Nov. 21, at 6 p.m. as the Gauchos take on the Pirates in the first game of this tournament. Hampton will then have a quick turnaround before taking on North Alabama at noon on Tuesday. This gives the Gauchos some time to prepare for Wednesday night's game as they take on the Lions at 7 p.m.
To go along with all three of these games, UC Santa Barbara is hosting a food drive in partnership with the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County. Any fans that bring a canned food item will get free admission to the game.
PICKING ON THE PIRATES
Hampton University comes into this game with one win against Division II Regent University from Virginia Beach. The Pirates kept their competition local to start the season as they also took on James Madison University and East Carolina University.
The Pirates have been fouled a lot this year. With the number of attempts this team has taken throughout the year, they rank 36th in the NCAA with 24.7 attempts per game. Despite the number of free throw opportunities, they only have a .622 free throw percentage.
Jordan Nesbitt is one of the most impactful playmakers in the Colonial Athletic Association and the NCAA. The transfer from Saint Louis University ranks 40th in the NCAA and No. 1 in the CAA in assists per game, averaging 5.7.
Marquis Godwin has been the biggest contributor on offense for the Pirates. The senior guard currently leads the team in scoring with 43 points. Fellow senior guard Russell Dean follows up close behind him with 39. Godwin is also the team's best three-point shooter, going 8 for 20 from with a .400 three-point field goal percentage.
Sophomore Nesbitt not only leads the team in assists, racking up 17 so far, but he's also third on the team in field goals with 10. This follows up his 8.2 points per game with the Billikens in the Atlantic 10 Conference last season.
Five Pirates have double-digit rebounds at this point in the season with freshman Kyrese Mullen leading the way. The freshman who comes off the bench and has only played 69 minutes has 19 rebounds to start his freshman season.
The Pirates are heading into their first season with the CAA. They most recently were in the Big South, which they joined during the 2018-19 season.
Head Coach Edward Joyner, Jr., is in his 14th season with Hampton University. He has been through three conferences and boasts a 207-211 record since stepping in for the 2009-10 season.
TAMING THE LIONS
North Alabama comes into this tournament with a 3-1 record, defeating Alabama A&M, Oakwood and Blue Mountain while taking a loss to Mississippi Valley. The Lions defeated both Oakwood and Blue Mountain by scoring more than 100 points while only losing to Mississippi Valley by less than 10.
With the numbers this team is putting up, they are fifth in the NCAA in field goal percentage while sitting in sixth in effective field goal percentage. The Lions also rank in the top 25 in the NCAA in scoring offense, rebound margin and three-point field goal percentage.
Daniel Ortiz is a dominant force from beyond the arc not just in the ASUN, but in the NCAA. The sophomore guard from Shreveport, Louisiana is seventh in the NCAA in three-pointers made per game with 4.00 while ranking 10th in the nation in three-point field goals made with 16. With these numbers, he is by far the team's biggest offensive threat with 72 points already this season.
The next two closest players to Ortiz in points are junior Damian Forrest and sophomore Will Soucie. These two each have 42 points so far this season. Forrest, a transfer from Cleveland State Community College, is second on the team in field goals made with 17 while Soucie, a native of New Jersey, only has 15 field goals. However, he makes those points up at the free throw line, where he has made 12 of 14.
Forrest is not only an offensive force for the Lions, but he is the biggest defensive contributor as well. The 6-10 forward currently leads the team in rebounds 27, grabbing nine on offense and 18 on defense.
Freshman Jacari Lane comes off the bench each game and makes his impact on the offense. The Huntsville, Alabama native leads the team in assists with 14. KJ Johnson, a junior transfer from Lipscomb, also makes his impact on the team as he has 12 assists.
Head Coach Tony Pujol has been with the program for the last five seasons. In his time at the helm, he has a record of 48-72. Prior to taking this head coaching position, Pujol was an assistant at the University of Wyoming.
All three games of this tournament will be playing in The Thunderdome on UC Santa Barbara's campus. Tickets will be sold for Monday and Wednesday's game with free admission to Tuesday afternoon's contest. A live stream will also be available for both of the host's games while Tuesday's game will not be live streamed. All three games will have live stats.
For more information about the tournament, visit ucsbgauchos.com.