Dons don’t waste free throws in 65-59 win

There was nothing free about it, but the Santa Barbara boys basketball team held off Oxnard 65-59 thanks to a stellar night at the free-throw line on Monday at the Santa Barbara Holiday Classic.

The Dons scored their final 11 points from the charity stripe, and at one point had made 24-of-25 free throws before finishing 25-of-29.

“We just kinda gutted it out towards the end making some free throws,” explained Santa Barbara head coach Chris Hantgin. “I think that’s our best free-throw shooting game in a long, long time.”

“I think we were all kinda upset about that Curtis loss,” said Spencer Thomas, referring to the Dons’ defeat on Saturday that relegated them to the fifth-place bracket. “We felt like we should have won so we were focused to come out tonight.”

That focus turned into excellence at the free-throw line.

With the Dons holding a tenuous 54-51 lead, Kyle Leonard – who hadn’t scored a point all night – pulled it together when it counted and knocked down all six he attempted in the final three minutes. Thomas went five-of-six in that same time.

“I was struggling shooting from the floor all day,” admitted Leonard. “Once I hit one and two, I just started feeling confident with all of them.”

Roberto Nelson had a game-high 24 points to go with 10 rebounds, four assists and four blocks. Thomas was the team’s second-leading scorer with 13 points, and added six rebounds and three steals.

The Dons face Burroughs on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. with fifth-place on the line.


OXNARD — Frazier 14, Kohara 3, Salahoa 14, Ceja 2, Smith 6, Roman 4, Mulloy 16.

SANTA BARBARA — Uribe 10, Nelson 24, Thomas 13, Leonard 6, Maldonado 8, Aronson 4.

Oxnard           13  6    19   21 — 59

Santa Barbara  8  20   19   18 — 65

3-Pointers – O 4 (Frazier 2, Mulloy, Kohara), SB 4 (Nelson 2, Uribe 2). Total Fouls – O 22, SB 12. Free Throws – O 7-9, SB 25-29.