UCSB cruises past UC Irvine, 85-62

Orlando Johnson scored 25 points and added 10 rebounds and Kyle Boswell had career-highs with 19 points and five three-point baskets as visiting UC Santa Barbara crushed UC Irvine on Wednesday night, 85-62.

The Gauchos (14-8 overall, 9-3 in the Big West), which has won five of its last six games, remain in a second-place tie in the Big West Conference with Cal State Fullerton, a winner at UC Riverside.

UCSB led the Anteaters (9-17 overall, 5-8 in the Big West) by as many as 31 points four times in the second half before settling for the 23-point win.

“That was one of our best games of the year,” said Gaucho head coach Bob Williams. “Offensively, we were so much better than in the last game. We had a great couple days of practice and it showed tonight.”

Nate Garth’s three-point basket to end the first half gave the Gauchos a 44-29 lead at the break. With Johnson and Boswell combining for 28 points on 11-for-13 from the field, including 4-of-5 from three-point range, the lead ballooned to as many a 20 at 34-14.

UCSB put the game away early in the second half with an 10-0 run right out of the gates to take a decisive 54-29 lead. All 10 points came on lay-ups, two by Johnson and Alan Williams and one from James Nunnally.

Irvine narrowed the lead to 54-35, but never got any closer.

One game after suffering through one their worst shooting performances of the year in a win over UC Riverside, the Gauchos were outstanding against the Anteaters, making 53.6% overall and 55.0% from three-point range. Their 11 three-pointers tied a season-high.

Johnson made 9-of-11 shots overall and both of his three-point attempts while Boswell was 7-for-10 and 5-for-8.

“O.J. and Bos were great tonight,” Williams said. “That was the Orlando that we have come to expect. He was in a really good rhythm tonight. Kyle was feeling it so we took advantage of that.”

UCSB also got solid contributions from Garth, who had nine points and six assists, and Greg Somogyi who overcame a twisted ankle in the second half to finish with six points, six rebounds and four blocked shots.

UCI was led by Will Davis III and Daman Starring who each had 12 points.

UCSB remains on the road for two more games before returning home for its final three games of the regular season. On Saturday, Feb. 18, the Gauchos travel to Utah State for a Sears Bracket Buster game. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and as part of ESPN’s Fullcourt package. Tip-off is set for 6:00 p.m.