SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — UC Santa Barbara held a commanding 40-23 advantage on the glass and limited Sacramento State to 41% shooting from the field in a 75-58 win over the Hornets on Thursday evening at The Thunderdome.
The Hornets, who entered the game among the top 25 teams in the nation in assists, finished with just nine assists on 20 made buckets. Sacramento State shot 41% (20-49) from the field, 29% (4-14) from the 3-point line and 58% (14-24) from the free throw line. In addition, the Hornets entered the game third in the Big Sky Conference in rebounding margin (+5.3), but were soundly outrebounded tonight by a 40-23 margin. The Gauchos scored 18 second chance points, 11 of which came in the first half.
After trailing by just five points (32-27) at halftime, Sacramento State was outscored in the second half by a 43-31 margin. UC Santa Barbara used a 16-3 run over a 5:13 span of the second half to stretch a 43-37 lead all the way to 59-40 with 8:06 to play. The Hornets would get no closer than within 13 points of that UCSB lead the remainder of the evening.
The loss was the first of the season for Sacramento State, which was also playing its first road game of the year. The Hornets, who were playing a Big West Conference opponent for the third straight game, dropped to 3-1 on the young season. Last week, Sacramento State defeated both UC Davis and Cal State Fullerton, who were picked second and third, respectively, in the Big West's preseason poll. UC Santa Barbara was selected to finish fourth.
The Gauchos, off to their best start since the 2007-08 season, have now won five straight games. Tonight marked the fourth straight win over a Big Sky Conference team for UCSB, including a home win over Montana State (88-69), and neutral court victories over Portland State (79-69) and Idaho (66-55).
Tonight marked the first of a season-high tying three-game road trip that will also see Sacramento State play Cal State Northridge on Saturday, and Portland on Dec. 8.
Sacramento State, which held a 10-6 lead early in the contest, did score 13 points off 15 UC Santa Barbara turnovers, but had trouble overcoming its shooting woes and the rebounding disparity. The Gauchos shot 47% (24-51) from the field, 39% (7-18) from distance and 77% (20-26) from the free throw line. The Hornets committed 21 fouls and saw two Hornets foul of the contest - Joshua Patton at the 10:48 mark, and Ethan Esposito at the 3:18 mark.
Patton finished with a game-high 15 points and has scored at least 11 points in all four games thus far. He finished 3-for-5 from the floor and set career highs in both free throws made (9) and attempted (14) while adding four rebounds in 22 minutes played. Esposito also ran his double-figure scoring streak to four straight games after finishing with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from the free throw line in just 13 minutes.
Rounding out the three Hornets in double figures was Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa who finished with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists while draining 3-of-7 shots from beyond the arc. The five rebounds were the most by any Hornet and the assists tied a team high. Three Hornets scored four points, including Osi Nwachukwu who finished with four points, four rebounds and a team-high two steals. Bryce Fowler had four points, three boards, three assists and a steal, and Calvin Martin had four points and a steal while drawing his team-best sixth charge of the season.
Senior guard Marcus Graves had scored at least 11 points in the first three games, but was held to eight points and three rebounds on 4-of-11 shooting. After missing the first three games with injury, senior guard Jordan Tolbert played four minutes in tonight's game, converting on his only field goal attempt.
Four Gauchos scored in double figures, including three starters - Armold Davis (14 pts, 6 reb), Amadou Sow (14 pts, 5 reb) and JaQuori McLaughlin (13 pts, 6 reb). Four UC Santa Barbara players had at least six rebounds while Sacramento State did not have a players with more than five boards.
The Hornets return to action on Saturday when the team plays at CSUN at 7:05 p.m. The game will be the fourth straight against a Big West opponent as Sacramento State is already 2-1 against the league thus far. After the Northridge game, the Hornets will not play again until traveling to Portland on Dec. 8.
Sacramento State has just four non-conference games remaining before opening up its 20-game Big Sky portion of the schedule on Dec. 29 at home vs. Northern Colorado.
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