On Thanksgiving Eve, no food was prepared by the fans who came to The Thunderdome. Instead, they watched the gauchos cook up a win. UCSB men’s basketball (4-1) played on the final day of the Santa Barbara Beach Classic when they faced the University of North Alabama Lions. After a slow start, the Gauchos found their rhythm and won this thriller 89-71.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The gauchos didn’t have the best start. North Alabama pressured the Gauchos early in the game, causing the Gauchos to play from behind from the start of the game. However, the home team picked up the pace in the last 10 minutes and took a four-point lead before heading to the dressing room. A key reason for that lead was a superb three-point field goal from Ajare Sanni late in the half to give the gauchos the momentum they needed. The first half ended with UCSB leading 41-37.
To keep up with all the excitement, Cole Anderson went four-for-four from beyond the arc and led the team by 12 points while the team as a whole went seven-for-nine from the three-point line.
As the second half began, the Gauchos picked up where they left off. UCSB scored another 48 points in the second half to keep the Lions at bay, resulting in an 89-71 win at The Thunderdome. This puts the gauchos at 25-3 at home from November 2020 to November 2022.
LOOK AT THE NUMBERS
– Six different gauchos finished in double digits with Ajay Mitchell leading the way. The second division side from Belgium had 17 points in today’s competition and also contributed seven assists and two steals. This performance combined with his great game against the Pirates led to Mitchell being named the tournament’s MVP.
– Sanni had the second most points on the team, which helped him earn a spot on the All-Tournament team. He finished today’s game with 14 points and shot 50 percent from the field.
– 12 points apiece registered Andre Kelly and Anderson. Anderson went four for five from the field while Kelly went six for nine from the field while shooting 100 percent from the charity streak. He also led the team in rebounds with seven and blocks with two.
– The last two gauchos with double-digit points were Miles Norris and Calvin Wishart. Those two finished on 10 points each as Wishart went off the field three for four while Norris also added six rebounds.
– Josh Pierre-Louis also contributed to the offensive effort. He tied with Mitchell for most assists in tonight’s game at seven.
The gauchos will use the next few days to enjoy the holidays and train before heading to Pittsburgh to take on the Duquesne University Dukes. This competition will be played at 4pm PST with a live stream available via ESPN+.
Kristen Keller is Associate Athletic Director of Communications and Digital Strategy at UCSB.