SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (Nov. 23, 2022) – On the eve of Thanksgiving, no food was prepared by the fans who came to The Thunderdome. Instead, they watched the Gauchos cook up a win. UC Santa Barbara Men's Basketball (4-1) played on the final day of the Santa Barbara Beach Classic as they took on the Lions of the University of North Alabama. After a slow start, the Gauchos found their rhythm, winning this thriller 89-71.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Gauchos didn't have the best start to this one. North Alabama pressured the Gauchos at the start of the game, making the Gauchos play from behind from the start of the game. However, the home team picked up the pace in the last 10 minutes to take a four-point lead before heading into the locker room. A huge reason for that lead was a buzzer-beating three-point field goal at the end of the half from Ajare Sanni to give the Gauchos some must-needed momentum. The first half ended with UC Santa Barbara up 41-37.
To go along with all of the excitement, Cole Anderson went four-for-four from beyond the arc to lead the team with 12 points while the team as a whole went seven-for-nine from the three-point line.
Once the second half began, the Gauchos picked up where they left off. UC Santa Barbara scored another 48 points in the second half to keep the Lions at bay, resulting in an 89-71 win in The Thunderdome. This puts the Gauchos at 25-3 at home from Nov. 2020 to Nov. 2022.
LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS
- Six different Gauchos ended with double-digit points with Ajay Mitchell leading the charge. The sophomore from Belgium had 17 points in tonight's contest while also contributing seven assists and two steals. This performance along with his great game against the Pirates led to Mitchell being named the MVP of the tournament.
- Sanni had the second-most points on the team which helped him earn a spot on the All-Tournament team. He finished tonight's game with 14 points, shooting 50 percent from the field.
- Registering 12 points apiece were Andre Kelly and Anderson. Anderson ended up going four-for-five from the field while Kelly was six-for-nine from the field while shooting 100 percent from the charity stripe. He also led the team in rebounds with seven and blocks with two.
- The final two Gauchos to record double-digit points were Miles Norris and Calvin Wishart. These two finished with 10 points each as Wishart went three-for-four from the field while Norris also added on six rebounds.
- Josh Pierre-Louis contributed to the offensive efforts as well. He was tied with Mitchell for the most assists in tonight's game with seven.
The Gauchos will take the next few days to enjoy the holiday and train before making the trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to take on the Duquesne University Dukes. This contest will be played at 7 p.m. EST/4 p.m. PST with a live stream available through ESPN+. People can also follow along with the team's radio feed and live stats.